Suicidal Risk Following the Termination of Romantic Relationships

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Abstract

Background: The termination of a romantic relationship is an established predictor of suicide attempt. Severing a relationship with a romantic figure can feel life-ending, based on attachment theory. Aims: The primary goal of this study was to determine if specific risk markers for suicide are related to an individual's commitment level to the romantic relationship prior to its dissolution. Method: The purpose of this study was to examine if commitment and investment are linked with suicidal risk in a sample of adults (n = 208) in the United States ages 18–64 who experienced the break-up of a significant romantic relationship within the past 3 months. Results: A structural equation model analysis revealed a significant association between commitment to the romantic relationship and suicidal risk when mediated by depression. This suggests that high commitment to the previous romantic relationship is indirectly associated with suicidal risk, indicating a need for increased attention to individuals who recently experienced a break-up. Limitations: This study is limited by its cross-sectional design and by retrospective accounts of the previous relationships. Conclusion: This study indicates that high commitment to a romantic relationship may serve as a risk factor of depression and therefore of suicide when the relationship is terminated.

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