Women and Suicide
As you may know, this past month of September has been Suicide Awareness Month. Suicide is a large and growing public health problem. Here are the latest statistics on suicide released in February of 2021.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 800,000 people die by suicide each year worldwide. And suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. When it comes to women and suicide, here are some things we should know:
Studies and statistics reveal that women are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, while men are 2-4 times more likely to die by suicide. Although men are more likely to take their lives, women are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than men. Women show higher rates of suicidal thinking, non-fatal behavior, and suicide attempts (attempted – but failed). These “attempts” pose a great risk for suicide in the future. Over one-half of women who die by suicide have had a previous attempt in the past.
What contributes to the numbers being very different between suicide deaths in men versus suicide deaths in women are the methods used by each. For example, the most common methods used by men are firearms and hanging. Women, on the other hand, resort to self-poisoning or the cutting of their wrists. In fact, women are more likely to engage in self-harming behavior whether or not the intent is to commit suicide.
Depression and Suicide:
It is thought that major depression occurs in roughly one-half of people who commit suicide both men and women. Women, however, are twice as likely as men to suffer from major depression. At the same time, it is also known that women are more likely to seek treatment than men.
Again, it has been reported that 800,000 people die by suicide each year worldwide. Studies have consistently shown that in America the suicide rate has been going up. (See chart at the end of this blog)
What is surprising to me is that the increase has been seen in middle age and older adults. It has been higher in adults 45-54 years of age, and the data shows that it has been 40-60 percent higher in women. These numbers related to the increase are based on numbers from 2010 through 2019 (see chart at end of the post). All other statistics are taken from the latest information from the year 2019. It will be some time before we have accurate data for the past two years (2020/2021).
We all know that there have been many concerns about how this pandemic and everything surrounding it may be increasing the number of people who attempt to take their lives. There is no doubt that it has had a profound effect on many people’s mental health. Studies have actually indicated that women’s mental well-being has declined by twice as much as men’s during this time. This could be contributed to less social contact, isolation, and loneliness. Women are more vulnerable to the impact of loneliness.
Is there any difference when it comes to Christian believers as opposed to nonbelievers where suicide rates are concerned? Here’s what we know:
In studies related to identifying what specific dimensions of religion are associated with aspects of suicide, here is the short version of the findings:
Religion does seem to protect against suicide attempts but specifically depends upon attendance of religious services, and social support measures. Studies seem to indicate that suicide is reduced among Evangelical Christians. Stats seem to reveal that suicide attempts were more common among people with no religious affiliation. However, religious affiliation is not protective in all samples. Suicide, suicidal thoughts and depression are without a doubt, issues that Christian believers and nonbelievers alike are dealing with. And we had better begin talking about it as Christian leaders, and in our Christian communities.
A few more facts, a chart, and a link that may interest you:
In 2019 - 47,511 Americans died from suicide. There were 1.3 million attempts. That is an average of 130 suicides per day. In my state of SC, suicide was the leading cause of death for ages 24-34; the highest rate in the country for this age group. In the state of Alaska, the leading cause of death for ages 10-24 was suicide. In the state of Utah, the number one cause of death for ages 10-34 was suicide. In fact, it was the number two cause of death in many states. Here are the top three states with the highest suicide rates in the country:
Wyoming is #1 in the country.
Alaska is #2 in the country.
Montana is #3 in the country.
See how your own state compares right here: https://afsp.org/state-fact-sheets
Adult women were reported having attempted suicide 1.5 times as often as males, female students about twice as often as male students. Ladies, let’s keep the conversation going! I will be creating a private online group very soon to talk more about women's mental and emotional health and well-being.
Jennifer Rash Ministries