Suicide is a major health concern. A new study has suggested that women who are socially well integrated have a lower risk for suicide. Married women are more likely to have large social network and participate in social or religious events. The study findings suggest such women are less likely to take their own lives as compared to those who are socially isolated.
The study said, "Interventions aimed at strengthening existing social network structures, or creating new ones, may be valuable programmatic tools in the primary prevention of suicide."
Alexander Tsai from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston in the US, and coauthors estimated the association between social integration and suicide using data from 72,607 nurses (aged 46 to 71 years). These nurses were surveyed about their social relationships beginning in 1992 and followed up until death or until June 2010. The degree of social integration was measured on an index of seven items that included questions about marital status, social network size, frequency of contact with social ties, and participation in religious or other social groups.
The researchers observed that, overall, there were 43 suicides from 1992 to 2010 and the most frequent means of suicide were poisoning by solid or liquid substances (21 suicides), followed by firearms and explosives (eight suicides) and strangulation and suffocation (six suicides). They found that the risk of suicide was lowest among women in the highest and second-highest categories of social integration. Increasing or consistently high levels of social integration were also associated with a lower risk for suicide.
The study appeared online in the JAMA Psychiatry.