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February 8, 1965


JAMA. 1965;191(6):494. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080060068017

Suicide, which is now a major cause of death, relates significantly to maintenance of the family unit and childhood deprivation.1 Reports on patients who have attempted suicide indicate that the prevalence of broken homes among such patients ranges from 38% to 84%. Depressive illnesses, especially in those who are suicidal, have been found to be associated with childhood deprivation; in those instances where one of the parents has died, a morbid identification with the dead parent predisposed the patient to suicide in later life.

Data obtained on 121 patients who had made suicidal attempts, and on 114 who had succeeded in killing themselves, are presented in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.2 A broken home was defined as a home in which one or both parents had been missing for a period of over four years prior to the subject's 18th birthday. Fifty percent of