Gender differences in risk factors for suicide: findings from a Swedish national cohort study

Can J Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;55(2):108-11. doi: 10.1177/070674371005500207.


Objective: To investigate whether childhood sociodemographic factors and parental psychopathology affect suicide risk differently in men and women.

Method: Cox regressions were used to calculate interaction effects of gender for childhood and parental risk factors for 8815 suicides (27% women) in a national cohort of 2.47 million people born between 1946 and 1968.

Results: Low parental socioeconomic status increased suicide risk only for men, hazard ratio (HR) = 1.22 (P = 0.003 for gender interaction), while living in a metropolitan area increased the risk only for women, HR = 1.42 (P < 0.001 for gender interaction). Parental psychotic or affective disorder increased suicide risk more strongly for women (HR = 2.08), than for men (HR = 1.52) (P = 0.004 for gender interaction).

Conclusion: Growing up in an urban environment and parental psychotic or affective disorder are significant gender-related risk factors for suicide, both conveying higher risks in women. The mechanisms linking childhood urbanicity to increased risk of suicide in adult women stand out as an important research area for the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Sweden
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult