In 2020, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death among adults in the United States. Prior research has shown that one common precipitating circumstance among adult suicide decedents is experiencing intimate partner problems (IPP), such as divorce, separation, romantic break-ups, arguments, conflicts, and intimate partner violence. This study examines how precipitating factors differ between IPP and non-IPP-related suicides.
In 2022, this study analyzed National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) data from adult suicide decedents in 48 states and two territories between 2003 and 2020. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to compare precipitating circumstances between IPP and non-IPP-related suicides, controlling for socio-demographic characteristics.
Of the 402,391 suicides, 20% (n = 80,717) were known to be IPP-related. Circumstances that significantly increased the odds of IPP-related suicides included history of suicidal thoughts and attempts and mental health problems (depressed mood, alcohol problem, mental health diagnosis); life stressors (interpersonal violence perpetration and victimization, arguments, financial problems, job problems, family problems); and recent legal problems. Non-IPP-related suicides were more likely to occur among older individuals and to be precipitated by a physical health problem or crime.
The findings can inform prevention strategies that build resiliency and problem-solving skills, strengthen economic support, and identify and assist people at risk for IPP-related suicides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Suicide Resource for Action and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention resource packages highlight the best available evidence for policies, programs, and practices related to preventing suicides and intimate partner problems.
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