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Last month a San Diego resident fell to his death during a skydiving exercise when his parachute did not deploy. The man was an experienced sky diver, and his parachute was equipped with a device that would have automatically opened the chute if the user failed to trigger it manually. Although an official manner of death has not been recorded, it is believed the diver intentionally deactivated the safety feature of his parachute and used the skydive as a means to commit suicide. The deceased had been going through a divorce and was known to be depressed.

Nationally and internationally, divorce is known to be a risk factor in suicide. According to DivorceInfo.com, the National Institute for Healthcare Research has found that divorced people are three times more likely to kill themselves as married people, and that divorce ranks as the number one factor linked with suicide rates in major U.S. cities, above other common factors such as physical ailments, financial troubles, and mental health issues.

Divorced men may be particularly at risk for suicide. While divorced women often remain as the primary caregiver for the children and continue to feel needed, divorced men may feel that their once-important role as head of the household has been terminated and that they no longer have people to care for or who care for them. Also, men are statistically more likely to succeed in a suicide attempt, even though women are statistically more likely to make the attempt.

This article is not meant to scare you or depress you but merely to raise your awareness. If you are going through a divorce, it is important to be in touch with your feelings and be on the lookout for signs of depression. Strong emotions during a divorce are natural, but if you are feeling particularly depressed or have any suicidal urges, you are strongly encouraged to talk things over with a trusted friend or family member or seek professional help. Likewise, if you know of someone who is going through a divorce and is demonstrating a sudden change in behavior or mood or expressing suicidal thoughts, confront that person directly and ask if they are thinking about suicide. Depending on their response, you may need to get help immediately or make plans to get them in touch with professional help.