How does suicidal behavior vary by sex?

Updated: Sep 25, 2018
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

There is a distinct difference in suicide rates by sex. Men have a significantly higher rate of completed suicides than do women. There are nearly 4 times the number of completed suicides among men than among women. However, women have a much higher rate of suicide attempts. [38] Often, women select methods, such as an overdose of medication, that allow more time for intervention. Men frequently use methods such as firearms, which are much more lethal.

Females more often use poison when attempting suicide. A study by Hoon et al investigated the risk factors associated with the repetition of deliberate self-poisoning. The associated factors for repeat suicide attempt were sex (female), living without a family, using antidepressants, and a history of psychiatric treatment. Early psychological intervention and close observation is required for patients meeting these criteria. (See the chart below.) [39]

Attempted suicide rates in males and females in a Attempted suicide rates in males and females in a midsized to large municipality in Norway, 1984-2006.

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