A team from the University of Southern Denmark looked at 21,653 same-sex twins born between 1870 and 1930 and established cause of death in the years between 1943 and 1993.
When the researchers compared the suicide rates of twins against death rates in the general population, they discovered that twins, regardless of gender, had a substantially lower rate of suicide.
The study's authors say this supports the view that strong family ties reduce the risk of suicidal behaviour.
The authors add that it was particularly interesting to discover that twins are slightly more likely than the general population to have mental illness - the strongest risk factor for suicide.
The researchers argue that this would suggest that a higher proportion of twins should commit suicide. However, they add, "Our findings show exactly the opposite, further underscoring the importance of strong family ties."
The study describes the relationship between twins as unique. "They not only share the same family and social environment at least for the first part of their lives, but they also show a higher level of closeness both in terms of the number of years spent together before leaving the parental home and in the frequency of contacts afterwards," the researchers said.
Source: British Medical Journal
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Last updated: 08/18/2003 - 06:41 PM