The relative relationships between marital categories are often captured by the ‘coeffi cient of preservation’, presented in Table 12.2. The coeffi cient was named and fi rst utilised by Durkheim in 1897 (1951: 177); it is computed by the following ratios: Never married
indicators of the relative immunity conferred by marriage in comparison with not being married, being divorced or widowed. If any of these ratios is larger than 1, the incidence of suicide for the relevant group is higher than for those who are married. For men, the lowest relative risk is for the never married. Suicide risk increases at marriage and at the death of a spouse. Divorced men are twenty times more at risk than married men. For women, marriage reduces the rate of suicide by almost half. Some studies have suggested that issues relating to marriage and sexuality such as familial disputes and proposed marriage and problems relating to pre-marital relationships help to explain why suicide rates are higher in females before their marriage (Deoki, 1987, Haynes, 1984, Karim and Price, 1975, cited in Booth 1999b). Loss of a partner reduces it further still – something we will discuss in greater depth below. As with men, divorce greatly increases the risk of suicide, divorcees being at ten times the risk of married women.