Up until 2005, there had been no important studies about the link between partners' suicides. Then a Danish study appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, which showed that the partner of a person who committed suicide is significantly more likely to take his or her own life. Researchers from the University of Aarhus looked at data from the Danish national medical register on 475,000 people. This was made up of 9,000 people who had committed suicide aged 25 to 60, their partners and children, and a comparison group.
The findings were dramatic: male partners were 46 times more likely to commit suicide, if they had lost a partner to suicide themselves. Women were rougly 15 times more likely to commit suicide, if they had lost a partner. The interpretation of the United Kingdom's Samaritans were that men were more at risk because they had more trouble seeking emotional help than women.
The Danish study was significant in that it showed just how much more at risk partners are after a suicide, when compared to other groups of survivors. Other family members, for example, are 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide.
Given the affect that suicide has on partners, it is of concern that very little has been written specifically about being the partner of a suicide survivor. Carla Fine's book, No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One is the first book specifically focused on suicide survivors, and she discusses the suicide of her husband as well as many other families' experiences. My book, Surviving Ben's Suicide: A Woman's Journey of Self-Discovery is the first literary memoir about surviving a partner's suicide. My hope is that in the coming years the veil of stigma will be lifted on surviving a partner's suicide and more survivors will be able to speak openly about their experiences.