by Jennifer Johnson

This article was first posted at ruthblog.org on August 13, 2014.

divorce and suicide for menWhen I heard about Robin Williams’ suicide yesterday, I felt shocked. So shocked that it was hard for me to think for several minutes. I kept wondering, “What? Huh? Is this real?” I could not imagine this extremely talented man as being dead. Not only that, but anytime I hear of somebody’s suicide it reminds me of my own father’s death. He also committed suicide, back in 1991.

In the next 24 hours after Williams’ death, my Facebook stream was filled with posts about him. One of these made a reference to an interview Williams did in September 2013, with Parade. In that interview he mentioned his two divorces and the amount of money he lost because of them:

Well, not all. Lost enough. Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it ‘all the money,’ but they changed it to ‘alimony.’ It’s ripping your heart out through your wallet. Are things good with my exes? Yes. But do I need that lifestyle? No.

Both Williams and my dad had been divorced. Williams twice, my dad three times. For men who get divorced, their risk for suicide is twice that of married men, according to a study titled, “Marital status and suicide in the National Longitudinal Mortality Study,” by Augustine J. Kposowa. Located here.

I am quite sure three divorces shattered my dad’s heart. I can’t speculate as to the psychological factors that drove Williams to commit suicide. It is accurate to say that his divorces increased his risks for it.

There is a lot of outrage and public grief about suicides for other demographics. Where’s the outrage and public grief for the demographic of divorced men who commit suicide?

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