Divorce pumps up suicide rate among dads

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Suicide among men jumps dramatically if the man is divorced, studies show

Unmarried men account for 62 percent of male suicides, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. A 2004 study found that divorced men are eight time more likely to commit suicide than divorced women.

General bad health

Divorced men general take worse care of themselves, research shows. Unmarried and divorced men are less likely to have their skin checked for melanoma, get a colonoscopy and have a regular doctor. They eat less fruit and vegetables and are less cautious when driving a car. They are less likely to take prescribed medicine.

Divorced men also often suffer from depression, anxiety and reduced self-esteem. Men have a smaller support network to help them combat these effects – in fact, for many men their spouse and children are their sole source of support.

While social interaction is known to help curb depression, the social isolation brought on by the loss of a spouse, children and the resulting change in most friendships can lead to suicide.

What to do

The CDC has a list of warning signs, including if the man:

  • Says he feels like a burden
  • Becomes isolated
  • Shows increased anxiety
  • Says he feels trapped or in pain
  • Shows increased substance abuse
  • Shows increased anger and rage
  • Has unusual mood swings
  • Expresses hopelessness
  • Sleeps too little or too much
  • Talks about wanting to die, accesses information about death or makes plans for suicide

The psychological toll that divorce takes on men is vast and underreported. If you, a friend or a loved one is going through a divorce, reach out to him and recommend he contact an experienced, qualified attorney to help him through a difficult time.

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