Why women are less likely than men to commit suicide

Compr Psychiatry. 1998 Jul-Aug;39(4):165-75. doi: 10.1016/s0010-440x(98)90057-8.


Major depression forms the background of upwards of half of all suicides. Women are twice as likely as men to experience major depression, yet women are one fourth as likely as men to take their own lives. Current and past explanations of this paradox are built on androcentric assumptions that women are deficient in some way. The reverse may be true where suicide is concerned. Men value independence and decisiveness, and they regard acknowledging a need for help as weakness and avoid it. Women value interdependence, and they consult friends and readily accept help. Women consider decisions in a relationship context, taking many things into consideration, and they feel freer to change their minds. It is argued here that women derive strength and protection from suicide by virtue of specific differences from men. Factors that protect women from suicide are opposite to vulnerability factors in men.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Men / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Perception
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide / trends
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women / psychology*
  • Women's Health*
  • Women, Working / psychology
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data