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Bereavement increases risk of death and suicide

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Bereavement is associated with an increased risk of mortality from a range of causes including suicide, according to a study.

The review of literature pooled data from 16 previously published studies on health outcomes of bereavement and found mortality was higher among the recently bereaved.

One study found widowers were 3.3 times more likely to commit suicide than married men. Another study of 12,522 married people aged 40 and over found they were twice as likely to die during the second half of the first year after losing a husband or wife.

According to a Danish study, mortality was 17% higher in widowers after a five-year follow-up compared with a 6% mortality increase in widows.

Authors added: ‘For widowers, the increased risk will probably be associated with alcohol consumption and the loss of their sole confidante, who would have overseen her husband’s health status.’

Lancet (2007) 370: 1960-1963
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