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Depression and suicide attempts in women

(115 Posts)
Dyrne Wed 14-Aug-19 16:05:59

Firstly, I absolutely want to stress that I fully support the current conversation and momentum about mental health for men - tackling the toxic masculinity and “man up” culture is so important; and I would never want to imply that conversation isn’t important. (Hence me starting my own thread in feminism chat; I would never want to derail an important campaign with “well, actually...”).

Having said all that, I see a lot of talk about how “more men commit suicide than women”. While I completely agree that is an important fact and very useful to get the conversation going and getting men to open up; something often gets left out of these statistics - although men have more successful suicide attempts; women actually attempt suicide more often than men.

Is there a gap here in addressing womens’ mental health?

I think there is a lot behind this - society’s expectation of performing femininity: pressure for women to have a successful career while still being expected to do the bulk of the childcare/housework; having to be seen to “have it all” and do it easily and without complaint.

There is also the question of whether women may find it more difficult in getting taken seriously at the doctor’s office (not sure on stats for mental health; but difficulty accessing treatment for physical health problems is well documented).

Does anyone have any links/studies that have looked into this?

HugsAreMyDrugs Wed 14-Aug-19 16:16:27

I think it's partly because suicide attempts can easily be dismissed as someone just looking for attention or seen as a cry for help.

I attempted suicide in December and I was certainly not doing it for attention. I wanted to die and was angry when I failed.

It pisses me off so much when people dismiss suicide attempts. They should be taken more seriously.

Kilbranan Wed 14-Aug-19 16:31:43

Sorry to hear that hugs hope you are in a better place now and have found some support

It’s been suggested that more men commit suicide because they tend to go for more violent methods such as hanging, jumping from height or in front of train etc. Women will more often overdose or cut themselves and there is a greater chance that they can be saved with the right treatment, as opposed to the more violent methods which are instantly or very rapidly fatal.
I would say we have a mental health crisis affecting men and women caused by many different factors but certainly lack of mental health provision on nhs is a big problem. Any campaign to encourage people to seek help is a good thing. But I agree that focusing scarce resources too much on one sex could be to the detriment of the other

TheInebriati Wed 14-Aug-19 16:32:12

Is there a gap here in addressing womens’ mental health?
Yes theres a massive gap. Abuse including CSA and DV is a known factor for mental health problems, depression and suicide in women.

Tackling the root cause of male violence towards women would save the country billions of wasted pounds every year, and thats before you look at the human cost.

Thats not hyperbole, DV alone costs an estimated £66 billion a year.

“I’d have saved years if someone had asked”: Mental health services must ask about abuse''

EverardDigby Wed 14-Aug-19 16:40:14

Something I read last year indicated that young Asian women have high actual suicide rates but this gets lost in general stats.

AnotherAdultHumanFemale Wed 14-Aug-19 16:49:42

I second what Inebriati says about domestic abuse. I think loads of women commit suicide or try to after experiencing domestic abuse, especially if their ex is a narcissist or psychopath who mostly uses emotional and psychological abuse whilst being charming so nobody believes them.

When you get counselling for depression nobody ever asks you if you've experienced abuse, including abuse in childhood and domestic abuse. And even then a lot of women experience abuse and don't even see fit for what it is, due to conditioning and gaslighting. They get taught to blame then they do blame themselves and think something is wrong with them.

So women can and often do get years of therapy without getting to the root cause of their depression, instead thinking something is wrong with their brain chemistry or that they inherited depression or they are just a naturally depressive person.

AnotherAdultHumanFemale Wed 14-Aug-19 16:52:07

Typo/grammar corrections:

*(they) don't even see it for what it is

*They get taught to blame themselves by an abuser so they do blame themselves, thinking that something is wrong with them (not great grammar I know but it's hard to explain!)

ButterflyOne1 Wed 14-Aug-19 16:56:21

The statistics speak for themselves, more men complete suicide therefore the focus is on getting them to open up, talk and seek help.

Generally women are more inclined to speak to someone if they are feeling down and this in turn should help them.

I just don't understand why it can't be neutral, just general health matters and provide awareness and support to everyone involved.

LightsInOtherPeoplesHouses Wed 14-Aug-19 17:26:44

This is an interesting topic.

I don't know what the current stats are, but overall women are more likely to attempt suicide but less likely to die. This is due to different methods used, men tend to use more 'active methods' which are less survivable.

Another factor is that, in the UK, access to some methods favoured by women have been restricted or removed altogether. So in the past I believe suicide rates for women were higher than for men, but one of the most successful ways of reducing suicide is by restricting access to/eliminating methods.

As far as accessing GPs and mental health services goes, women are more likely to ask for help than men. Presumably gender stereotypes come into play here.

If I get a chance I'll dig out the stats, but they're all available if you Google them.

Dyrne Wed 14-Aug-19 18:30:29

Really interesting that men choose more violent methods - it makes complete sense and would definitely account for the differences in ‘outcome’.

I agree that support facilities are pathetic. All very well encouraging to ‘seek help’ but it’s not very useful when you then have to wait months for talking therapies!!!

Very telling then that even if women are more likely to seek help, what does that say about how they are still more likely to attempt suicide? Definitely shows that the system is failing vulnerable people.

Gwynfluff Wed 14-Aug-19 18:37:52

Interesting article here - confirming that ratio nearly equalised when domestic gas could be used

Sorry that’s is a weirdly long link

YourSarcasmIsDripping Wed 14-Aug-19 18:48:47

Globally, death by suicide occurred about 1.8 times more often among males than among females in 2008, and 1.7 times in 2015.[4][5][6] In the western world, males die by suicide three to four times more often than do females.[4][7] This greater male frequency is increased in those over the age of 65.[8] Suicide attempts are between two and four times more frequent among females.[9][10][11] Researchers have attributed the difference between attempted and completed suicides among the sexes to males using more lethal means to end their lives.[7][12][13]

There was a website confirming that females attempt it a lot more than males in the US but couldn't find one for the UK.

Whatisthisfuckery Wed 14-Aug-19 18:57:01

I don’t want to go into it too deeply but last year I tried to take my own life. I very almost hanged myself, but managed to talk myself out of it by thinking about who would find me. It was in a public area and would probably have been a neighbour.

It stayed my hand for a couple of hours but then I caved and basically took a month’s worth of my medication, plus some more I had left over. I fully intended to kill myself, but I had to call for help because I didn’t want my child coming home from finding me, or not being able to get in and having to call the police who would find me.

If I hadn’t called for help I would’ve died, there’s no doubt about that. I would’ve just laid down and died right there, but I’m a single parent and I at least needed to make sure my child was safe.

Looking back on it it was stupid but I really didn’t want to go on. I survived without any ill affects thank god but I’ve had absolutely no help with my MH since. What I did get however is a whole load of grief, accusations and hassle from SS. There were times where I thought it wasn’t worth it and I’d do it properly this time but I’ve managed to get myself back on track, despite an absolute shitload of other huge problems to deal with. Housing and trying to divorce my abusive H being only some.

I’m doing much better now although still not divorced. The family courts really don’t work for women. I’m still getting no help with my MH and the housing issues could come up again as still not sorted, as they’re related to XH. I’m still banging my head against a brick wall but I’m stronger, for now at least. Reading all the strong intelligent women on here has helped more than you can imagine.

I’ll keep on keeping on, though I still have all the same problems to deal with with no end in sight.There really is very little help out there, and I’m not bloody surprised women have a high rate of suicide attempts.

sarahg216 Wed 14-Aug-19 18:59:22

I’d like it if there was a lot more investment in support services for women from communities where domestic abuse and sexual abuse in marriage seems to be permitted.
I think there are women in desperate situations in the uk but domestic violence services are not set up to help women from minority cultures/non English speakers feel comfortable to access them because they are afraid of the repercussions. And it doesn’t seem right that women are just left in these situations.

Goosefoot Wed 14-Aug-19 19:11:40

I think there is such a mental health problem for both men and women, and so many gaps all round, that it's difficult to sort out if there are particular gaps for men and women.

I tend to think the elephant in the room is that the frequency of mental health problems in the west is significantly related to the way we live, and it's pretty well known that certain types of changes could make a significant difference to the problem. Lack of extended family or other deep social contacts for most people makes a huge difference. For women specifically, as an example, a tight knit supportive community can significantly reduce incidents and seriousness of PPD. But we can't easily change those things, or maybe don't want to.

Whatisthisfuckery Wed 14-Aug-19 19:12:13

Oh, and to add, MH services are utterly useless for women. I have a diagnosis of bipolar, which I’m still not sure about tbh. It seemed correct at the time, and a bit of a comforting label to put on what was going on with me. I’m not convinced though. I think my MH problems were caused by a difficult childhood, then being in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage. I didn’t even realise it was abusive for several years after leaving. I was trying to keep things calm for the sake of our child, but as I started to realise it became harder for me to keep up the front. Also H was getting deeper into the drink and it stripped away his vineer of civility.It’s like all the layers pealed away and all that was left was the ugly naked truth of him.

Nobody ever asked me about my past, or whether my problems had a deeper cause. When I finally came to terms with the abuse I’d suffered I was scared to say anything, as my psychiatrist had already slapped the EUPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder) label on me, despite me not fitting the criteria whatsoever. The last thing I wanted to do was to speak up about what I really thought was going on as that would definitely consign me to the personality disorder bin they have for ‘difficult’ people.

MH services are all about medication. That’s basically it. There’s no meaningful talking therapy available, or not in my area at least, and it’s all about treating the symptoms rather than getting to the bottom of the cause. I had a round of therapy once, but all the woman wanted to do was relaxation techniques and breathing. That was no use to me so I quit after a couple of sessions. There isn’t the resources to offer proper in-depth therapy, and I strongly suspect the stigma of trauma and abuse would prevent them from being used to their full potential even if there was.

Winterlight Wed 14-Aug-19 19:26:22

I read somewhere that the highest prevalence of suicide for women is between the ages 50 and 54.

That could suggest a link to the menopause.

YourSarcasmIsDripping Wed 14-Aug-19 19:29:47

I tend to think the elephant in the room is that the frequency of mental health problems in the west is significantly related to the way we live, and it's pretty well known that certain types of changes could make a significant difference to the problem. *

Top 10 countries by suicide rates.

Strangely enough the "west" figures much much lower down the list.

The US is 30 something and UK 109.

I know this is from 2016,but still.

YourSarcasmIsDripping Wed 14-Aug-19 19:37:53

What I find interesting is that there are no stats about murder-suicide/family annihilators ,which tend to be predominantly men.

Only thing I could find is that in America they estimate there are 11 such incidents a week.

EndLegalFiction Wed 14-Aug-19 19:54:26

Can I also add the issue of mental health issues related to birth control.

I yo-yo badly on the pill and am rock steady without it. Took me two decades to realise and then only worked it out by accident.

This is women specific and appears poorly researched (as is women specific related response to medication in general).

flowers to Whatisthisfuckery and Hugs

YourSarcasmIsDripping Wed 14-Aug-19 20:08:12

* Is there a gap here in addressing womens’ mental health?*

Let's have a look at what women go through...

*abuse in childhood (sexual,physical,mental)


*domestic violence

*being left with significant trauma like PTSD from those incidents or pregnancy

*being forced to run with just their clothes on their back and their kids in a refuge/or being left without a penny or home in a breakup

*treatment that in many cases is not fit for purpose or not originally aimed at women to begin with

*the shocking lack of ability a d services to diagnose autism in women and girls

*stigma and shaming for whatever they do (divorcing/staying, breastfeeding/not breastfeeding, working/not working)

*immense pressure to have it all and be all

*going back to pregnancy mental,emotional and/or physical trauma . For some unlucky women they get it all , maimed body,pain,PTSD,PND etc.

*on the other side of the coin there's difficulty conceiving, painful and expensive treatment (whether the problem is with them or not) and dealing with loss and heartbreak.

That's just of the top off my head.
Then we add in a reluctance to diagnose,to take women seriously, a severe lack of resources,services and support and yes,not only is there a massive gap in supporting women's mental health, but society ,laws and environment actively contribute to the deterioration of their mental health.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Wed 14-Aug-19 20:16:16

According to various things I've read over the years, men are more likely to commit suicide because they bottle it all up and then use far more violent methods which don't allow for second thoughts.

One of my DS spent a couple of years in his early teens contemplating suicide on a more or less daily basis. It was terrifying. But I knew how bad he was and although he wouldn't talk to me I used to talk to him.

He still suffers from depression but he tells me those years immunised him against suicide.

My own situation is better now than it has been for many years. Mumsnet taught me that I might have ASD. I asked my GP about impaired executive function, showed him photos of my house, and was referred. I have fallen into to the arms of a wonderful psychologist who, as well as my chronic depression and anxiety, has diagnosed ASD and dyspraxia. She's passed me to a psychiatrist, the ASD people, and I now have a support worker. I have all these people trying to help me. It's so encouraging.

DDIJ Wed 14-Aug-19 20:16:34

Disclaimer:Have not read thread so loads of people have probably said this.

Men tend to use higher lethality means. Just because women may be unsuccessful doesn't mean the attempt was not serious.

Women's attempts dismissed as half-hearted, cries for help, hysterical, attention seeking.

Because patriarchy.

DDIJ Wed 14-Aug-19 20:18:27

Oh fuck I did not realise this was in feminism. Sorry, shouldn't have posted flowers

AngelasAshes Wed 14-Aug-19 20:26:48

An interesting article pointed out that since 1993, Generation X, those born 1965-1980, have had the highest suicide rate of ALL generations. Yes, from 1993 up to and including 2019 Generation X is mostly likely to commit suicide. So the average age of a person committing suicide has gotten older as Gen X aged and matches their ages.

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