The impact of intimate partner relationships on suicidal thoughts and behaviours: A systematic review

J Affect Disord. 2016 Jan 15;190:585-598. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 4.


Background: A systematic review was conducted to identify the impact of intimate partner relationships on suicidality. The aim of the review was to identify factors within intimate partner relationships that influence suicidal ideation, attempts and completion.

Method: Fifty-one articles were identified through Scopus, PubMed and PsycINFO databases. Due to the high heterogeneity of the included studies, a narrative data synthesis was conducted.

Results: The research drew attention to specific contingents of the population, for example examining suicide risk in individuals under the age of 35 or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals who are experiencing relationship discord, and in males who have recently separated.

Limitations: Interpretation of these findings is constrained by methodological limitations prevalent in much of the literature. Limitations of the existing literature and corresponding directions for future research are discussed.

Conclusions: Relationship separation and poor quality relationships are likely to be important risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviours and are frequent triggers for a suicide attempt. This review highlights intimate partner relationships as a significant component in a suicide risk assessment, regardless of the clinical setting. Consequently, clinicians should be aware that individuals reporting relationship problems are likely to be at increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

Keywords: Conflict; Intimate partner relationships; Risk factors; Separation; Suicide; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*