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Suicidal Thoughts Rise after a Breakup, Study Reports

Update Date: May 22, 2014 03:55 PM EDT

Suicidal thoughts can be extremely dangerous if they are not treated immediately. In a new study, researchers examined people's vulnerability to suicidal ideation and discovered that these thoughts tend to spike after people go through a hard breakup.

For this study, the research team examined 6,600 people between the ages of 20 and 62 starting in 2000. The participants were from Canberra and nearby Queanbeyan. The team had conducted interviews every four years to monitor the participants' mental health before and after a relationship fell a part. The last set of interviews will take place in 2020.

The researchers found that right after a breakup, suicidal thoughts tended to increase. The team found that surprisingly four years before a separation, the risk of having suicidal thoughts increased as well. The age group that was most vulnerable to these thoughts were people in their 20s. The researchers reported that people in this group were more likely to be experiencing recent or impending separation. The lowest risk of suicidal thoughts was in people in their 60s. Over time, suicidal thoughts declined. However, the researchers reported that even after five years, the number of suicidal thoughts separated people had was still "significantly elevated."

"The prevalence of suicidal thoughts among recently separated men and women is three times higher than for those who remain married, or in de-facto relationships," lead author of the study Dr. Philip Batterham, from the Australian National University (ANU) Center for Mental Health Research, said reported by Medical Xpress. "It is important to intervene early, to reduce suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviors, before they end up as a suicide."

The study was published in Social Science & Medicine.

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