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Social Integration and Suicide Mortality Among Men FREE

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The full report is titled “Social Integration and Suicide Mortality Among Men: 24-Year Cohort Study of U.S. Health Professionals.” It is in the 15 July 2014 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 161, pages 85-95). The authors are A.C. Tsai, M. Lucas, A. Sania, D. Kim, and I. Kawachi.

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Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(2):I-15. doi:10.7326/P14-9022
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Suicide is a devastating event. It results in years of productive life lost for the individual and society as well as long-term negative consequences for family and friends. Men commit suicide more often than women, and suicides among middle-aged men are increasing. Most studies of suicide have focused on such risk factors as current or prior psychiatric disorder, medical illness, and substance use. However, many people who commit suicide seem generally healthy.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see whether men who committed suicide differed from other men in social integration (that is, how connected they were to other people).

Who was studied?

A large group of men volunteered in 1988 to have their health status followed on a regular basis. In addition to information on their medical history, they provided regular reports on many aspects of their lives, including diet, exercise, and what kinds of social activities they engaged in. When men died, the investigators recorded the cause of death.

What did the researchers find?

When all other factors were equal, men who reported being more connected to others at the beginning of the study were less likely to commit suicide than those who were less socially connected. Being married, attending religious services frequently, and interacting with a larger network of people on a regular basis seemed especially protective against suicide.

What were the limitations of the study?

The study included only men who were middle-aged in the 1980s (that is, of an earlier generation). The amount and types of social interaction may differ from those of middle-aged men today.

What are the implications of the study?

This study suggests that a fuller understanding of the role of social interaction is important in understanding suicide. Such understanding will hopefully lead to new ways to prevent this tragic event.





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