The British Journal of Psychiatry
Social factors in suicide.
M E Heikkinen, E T Isometsä, M J Marttunen, H M Aro, J K Lönnqvist


BACKGROUND The study objective was to investigate the age-related variation of social factors in suicide.

METHOD Age-related variations in marital status, living arrangements, employment and social interaction were investigated in an entire 12-month suicide population in Finland (n = 1067); these findings were compared with appropriate census data.

RESULTS Several social factors varied across age groups among suicides, with some age-related sex differences. Compared with the general population, the suicides were more commonly never married (especially men aged 30-39 years), divorced, and widowed (especially women aged 60-69 years); living alone was more frequent among the suicides, as was living with parents among male suicides aged 25-39 years. A history of psychiatric admission was especially common among young male suicides who had never married or were living with parents. Living alone was particularly frequent among middle-aged male suicides who had misused alcohol.

CONCLUSIONS While most of the age-related variation in social factors found in suicide seems to parallel the natural variation of these factors in the general population, some social findings in suicide might be related to the victims' psychopathology and excessive alcohol use.