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August 1966

Separation and Attempted Suicide

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College, New York, and the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston (Dr. Levi).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(2):158-164. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730140046008

SUICIDE attempts are often associated with the actual or threatened loss of a loved person. Several investigators have studied the frequency of separation, that is, the disruption of a close interpersonal relationship, in the period preceding suicide or a suicide attempt. Dorpat and Ripley1 found that 27% of a group who completed suicide had suffered the loss of a family member by death, separation, or divorce within one year prior to the suicide. In a study of suicide attempts, Moss and Hamilton2 found that the death of someone close to the patient was an important precipitating factor in over 60% of the cases. A review of the literature reveals that suicide attempts are frequently preceded by separation or threatened separation from important persons.3-7

The vulnerability to separation in adult life is thought to be related to childhood separations. A number of retrospective studies have shown

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