The broken heart: suicidal ideation in bereavement

Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Nov;162(11):2178-80. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.11.2178.


Objective: This report examined suicidal behavior during bereavement.

Method: Suicidal ideation was examined in a group of 60 recently bereaved widows and widowers compared to 60 individually matched married comparison subjects.

Results: Suicidal ideation was higher among widowed people than married people and was most excessive for widows. The effect disappeared when there was control for emotional loneliness. Social support did not buffer bereaved individuals against suicidal ideation but reduced suicidal ideation among the married and bereaved alike.

Conclusions: Bereaved persons are at excess risk of suicidal ideation compared to nonbereaved people. Heightened suicidal ideation in bereavement is associated with extreme emotional loneliness and severe depressive symptoms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bereavement*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Widowhood / psychology
  • Widowhood / statistics & numerical data