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January 30, 1967

Social Factors in Suicide

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

JAMA. 1967;199(5):303-308. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120050045008

Two diagnostic groups, affective disorder (depression) and alcoholism account for the majority of urban suicides. Alcoholic suicides are more often divorced, separated, or living alone than is the general population. Suicides with affective disorder differ little from the US population except in the proportion living alone. Unlike the affectivedisorder group, alcoholics are found frequently (32%) to have experienced obvious disruption of affectional relationships within six weeks of suicide. The findings suggest that suicide is often a response to social disturbance in alcoholism, chiefly to depressive symptoms in affective disorder. The alcoholic appears particularly vulnerable to suicidal impulses on losing an important affectional relationship. This knowledge should improve suicide prevention.