The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.

-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia 

Wedlock vs. Wanhope in Wollongong


Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson


Wedding rings may prove much more effective than therapy sessions in combating suicide. Marital status stands out as a strong predictor of “serious suicidality” in a study by researchers from the University of Adelaide, the Australian National University in Canberra, and the National University of Singapore.

To assess Australians’ vulnerability to self-destructive despair, the researcher pored over data collected from 6,666 adults aged 20–29, 40–49 and 60–69 years, all of whom participated in a general-population survey. In the analysis of this data, marital status emerged as a critically important predictor of vulnerability. The researchers report a “significant main effect for marital status . . . with participants developing serious suicidality after baseline more likely to be divorced/separated/widowed . . . or never married” (p<.05). The degree to which marital status affects suicide risk proves quite dramatic: the researchers find that the risk of suicidality soars among the divorced/separated/widowed to almost three-quarters again of that found among the married (Odd Ratio, 1.70) and climbs even higher among the never-married (Odds Ratio, 2.07).

The researchers acknowledge that “previous research concords with the present findings indicating those never married (nor partnered) have increased probability of experiencing serious suicidality.” But they note that their research goes beyond previous research identifying a significant “association between being unpartnered and subsequent serious suicidal behaviour among unpartnered young females.”

The mystery of feminist indifference—even open hostility—to wedlock deepens. In any case, as the marriage rate continues to tumble in the United States, while divorce rates remain stubbornly high, officials may expect a growing number of suicide-attempters to fill the hospitals—and cemeteries.

(Kate Fairweather-Schmidt et al., “Baseline Factors Predictive of Serious Suicidality at Follow-Up: Findings Focusing on Age and Gender from a Community-Based Study,” BioMedCentral Psychiatry 10 [June 9, 2010]: 41.)

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