On the June 14th Morning Edition of NPR News, our founder and CEO Sarah listened to a story that chronicled how staggeringly suicide rates are rising among US women. Statistically, males are three to four times more likely to commit suicide than similarly aged women.
In 2016, approximately 21 males out of 100,000 took their own lives. While just six females out of 100,000 died by suicide that year.
Why are suicide rates rising among women?
Dr. Holly Hedegaard, a medical epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and her colleagues set out to evaluate a large pool of data from 2000 to 2016. What they found was a bigger spike among females in the rates of suicide, when compared to men. The rate of suicide rose just 21 percent for males, compared with 50 percent for girls and women.
Another surprising finding was that women in late middle age (45-64) had a suicide rate that increased by 60 percent. So, this begs the question – what is causing this dramatic spike?
What role does stress play in this rise?
- Women are more likely than men (28 percent vs. 20 percent) to report having a great deal of stress (8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale).
- Almost half of all women (49 percent) surveyed said their stress has increased over the past five years, compared to four in 10 (39 percent) men.
While more data will likely be compiled to determine more specifically what underlies this spike in suicide among women, it’s very likely that unmanaged stress is leading women to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. These are unfortunately common feelings for someone who is considering suicide.
Hopefully, as people become more aware of the unfortunate outcomes of stress, more will be done to manage stress.