Single Men and Early Deaths

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Of all the groups in the society, single males have the highest death rate and the cause of this death in most of the cases is suicide. In the testimony prepared for delivery to the U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families on 20th of July, 1983 titled “Trends in Youth Suicide, Homicide, Arrests, and Drug Use,” the University of Illinois (Chicago) researcher Edward A. Wynne indicated that the suicide rate for young men between ages 15 and 19 rose by 154% between the years 1960 and 1977. Sadly enough, suicide is not limited to young single men only. The fact of the matter is that the older a man gets without marrying, the more likely he is to commit suicide.


Renowned sociologist Emile Durkheim in his book Suicide, A Study in Sociology studied the high suicide rates of single men in the nineteenth century throughout Europe in regions including France, Switzerland, Italy, Prussia, Saxony, Baden and other areas. Durkheim stated regarding the high suicide rates of single men: “The bond attaching the [single] man to life relaxes because that attaching him to society is itself slack.”  When men and women are bonded in a marital relationship, it gives them a sense of personal value. This feeling of being important in the eyes of someone lessens the likelihood for those men and women to commit suicide. In addition, single men are more prone to depression from any issue primarily due to their loneliness. This subject has been dealt in detail by James J. Lynch, M.D. in his book The Broken Heart: The Medical Consequences of Loneliness.


The high death rates of single men compared to married men in the society is not limited to suicides, although that is the major cause. From the statistics provided by Ross and her colleagues published in the 1990 issue of the Journal of Marriage and the Family, the death rates of unmarried men are especially high with regard to the causes of death “that have a large behavioral component, such as lung cancer and cirrhosis, or that kill young and middle age adults, such as suicide”.


 According to statistics provided by this study, single men have death rates that are 250% higher than married men while single women have mortality rates that are 50% higher than married women. Likewise, married people spend much less time in hospitals compared to their unmarried counterparts and, when married people do get admitted in the hospitals, they have higher recovery rates. There is scientific evidence which shows that social support boosts a person’s immune system, resulting in his/her quicker recovery from an illness. 32 Another noteworthy point here is that unmarried women also suffer high death rates compared to their married counterparts, except that the causes of their deaths are not as dramatic as in the case of men.


Coetaneous malignant melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer. Although only 3 to 5 percent of all skin cancers are of this type, it is responsible for nearly 75 percent of all deaths caused by skin cancers. In one recent study published in the 2014 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, it has been revealed that those men who are unmarried (single or divorced) develop coetaneous malignant melanoma and had early deaths from it at a much higher rate compared to men who are married and live with a wife.


This study also showed that women living alone developed this form of skin cancer at a higher rate compared to women living with a spouse, although the risk was not as high as that of men. This comprehensive research was conducted by Hanna Eriksson, MD, PhD, of the department of oncology-pathology at Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Sweden. Dr. Eriksson and her colleagues carried out this population based study on 27,235 patients from Swedish between the years 1990 and 2007.


The results of this study showed that men living alone had a 42% increased risk of being diagnosed with stage II coetaneous malignant melanoma disease compared with stage I disease, when compared with men living with a spouse. Moreover, men living alone also had a 43% increased risk of being diagnosed with stage III/IV coetaneous malignant melanoma when compared with stage I disease.


Dr. Eriksson commented on the results of her study:  “We found that men living alone have a decreased survival in coetaneous malignant melanoma as compared to men living with a partner even after full adjustments including age, level of education and histopathologic prognostic factors.” 


What is even more startling is that social scientists have observed a strong relationship between marriage and death across numerous societies and regions of the world. According to the research of two social scientists Yuanreng Hu and Noreen Goldman published in the 1990 issue of the journal Demography, it was found that in countries as diverse as Japan and the Netherlands, the unmarried men and women die sooner than the married people. Furthermore, Hu and Goldman found that in most developed countries, men of any given age who are single, divorced, or widowed are about twice as likely to die sooner compared to married men. For unmarried women, the death rate is one and a half times greater than married women.  These statistics from different countries across the world show that Muslim countries are not safe from the ill-effects of delaying the marriages.


In all these researches, the high death rates of single or divorced men from diseases could be ultimately due to the depression or stress of loneliness.

A single, widowed or divorced man or a woman does not have the opportunity to share his/her concerns with his/her spouse in order to relieve his/her stress, because after all, human beings are social creatures.

It is little wonder that the marital bond between a husband and a wife is regarded as one of the Signs of Allah in the Qur’an as indicated earlier (Surah Ar-Rum: 21).


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