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Keywords:

  • education;
  • employment;
  • family formation;
  • family support;
  • suicide

Important resources from family support systems, employment, and educational attainment inhibit the risk of death. Independently, these factors are particularly salient for suicide, but how they combine to affect mortality is less clear. Analyses of National Health Interview Survey data from 1986 to 2004 (N = 935,802), prospectively linked to mortality through 2006 (including 1,238 suicides), reveals a process of compensation in the way work status and family combine to affect adult suicide: Individuals who are not working experience more suicide defense from more protective family support systems than do working adults. But a process of reinforcement occurs in the combination of education and family: More education associates with more protection from the family than does less education. The findings demonstrate how families and resources combine to affect mortality in unique ways.