A small story about a young young woman, Cecilia Casas, apparently committing suicide on a Los Angeles freeway the other day led me to refresh myself on gender, ethnicity and suicide.
CNN did a story in October about Latinas in particular, with some statistics and interviews. More generally, a recent review in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior showed that among young adults in all race-ethnic groups, women are more likely to attempt suicide than men:
…but men are much more likely to succeed.
Suicide attempts are going to be counted much less accurately than completed suicides, so reconciling these is not simple. However, mental health data on teenagers shows that girls are much more likely than boys to have major depressive episodes:
On consequence of the attempt/completion ratio difference between men and women is that mental health practitioners are better able to intervene with women, since they’re more likely to have an unsuccessful attempt as a trigger for treatment. It’s not as effective to rely on self-reported suicidal thoughts, which is more often necessary with men. In any case, access to regular medical care – a usual doctor or other provider, not an emergency room – seems like a necessary condition for identifying and preventing suicide.
Coincidentally, Dr. Perri Klass has a post today – with good links to resources – about how to handle depression and suicidal thoughts in a discussion with students.