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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?

timshelthechoice Sat 17-Aug-19 00:47:31

That term 'personality disorder' is just awful!

Mamello Sat 17-Aug-19 00:37:57

Many more women are admitted to hospital with self harm but this is often not called attempted suicide because the intention is not always clear. Similarly not all suicide is recorded as such because the intentionality of the act is not always clear and this is especially true for things like overdose etc. So some women's suicide may not be recorded as such. Men do appear to often choose more violent methods which are less ambiguous. And I do think because of the ambiguity women who harm themselves, without it being fatal, are not taken as seriously as they should be.

Singletomingle Sat 17-Aug-19 00:29:02

There have been posts on here that have been point scoring for want of a better word in both directions which I find disgusting on such a topic. By all means have this thread any positive discussion on mental health is great and anyone who tries to support someone in this position or has gone through such issues is a hero and deserves a huge pat on the back in my book.

AnotherAdultHumanFemale Sat 17-Aug-19 00:05:42

I find it disappointing that anyone could describe what has happened here as 'point scoring.' The thread was meant to be a discussion about how women attempt suicide more than men, and how that statistic tends not to be reported.

Nobody is saying that mental health services for men don't need to be improved, because clearly they do. Mental health services need to be improved for everyone, huge amounts of people are currently suffering due to underfunded mental health services in the UK at least.

But this is a feminist forum, and the OP wanted a discussion about women and suicide. We are allowed to centre women in our feminism. If you wish to discuss mental health services for men and male suicide, there is nothing stopping you from starting a thread on this topic in another forum, as StockTakeFucks has said above.

StockTakeFucks Fri 16-Aug-19 23:26:37

Yeah,as a woman I won't ever apologise for making women and girls my priority.

And this is the feminist board, and the thread title is "suicide and depression in WOMEN".

You want,need or support something else that's fair enough. There are ample opportunities for discussion on other threads and you can even make yourself.

As soon as this thread starts discussing the actual issue it's either whataboutery or kumbaya my lord love everyone.

WOMEN. It's not rocket science.

Singletomingle Fri 16-Aug-19 23:19:55

I've been watching this thread and really its shocking that anyone is trying to point score over who suffers most from mental illness and ultimately suicide. Both sexes die from suicide in truly awful numbers and need help and support for whatever reason the form of this does differ between women and men and I may get flamed for this but if you're trying to point score òver who has it worst or needs help the most then you are part of the problem.

BigChocFrenzy Fri 16-Aug-19 23:13:08


AnotherAdultHumanFemale Fri 16-Aug-19 22:54:01

The whole labelling it as 'attention seeking' gives me a terrible feeling of rage inside. It's yet more minimising of women's pain, victim blaming and general cruelty.

StockTakeFucks Fri 16-Aug-19 22:47:09

I wonder if this "attention seeking" rhetoric is another reason why women who have committed suicide are more likely (than men) to have attempted it before.

AnotherAdultHumanFemale Fri 16-Aug-19 22:31:32

We've clearly got a men's right's activist on this thread. Attacking the lived experience of a woman with depression and counselling showing absolutely zero empathy and shouting down my experience as somehow irrelevant, describing violent methods of suicide with zero sensitivity to the women here who have said they are suicide survivors or have family members who died by suicide, and shouting down everyone who points out women attempt suicide more than men.

It's a shame to see this on a thread about depression and suicide of all places but I guess it's the feminist forum so they can't help themselves.

TeiTetua Fri 16-Aug-19 20:26:24

I haven't got depression myself, but a family member has, and we both read the late Sally Brampton's book about experiencing it, "Shoot the Damn Dog" (that's a reference to the old nickname for depression, "the black dog"). It's witty and informative, doesn't minimize anyone's problems, generally a good read. She said in the book that some "depressants" (she liked that term) are lucky enough to respond to drugs, as my relative does, but nothing worked for Sally Brampton. A few years ago she killed herself by putting stones in the pockets of her coat, and walking into the sea. I wondered if being a literate person, she was drawn to using the same method as Virginia Woolf.

And, on another feminist board (now gone) I learned about Jane Callaghan, a professor in mental health who suffers from depression herself. If anyone wanted to take a feminist approach to the subject, she'd be someone to talk to. Here's a short article she wrote:

Pebble21uk Fri 16-Aug-19 19:29:28

I can only speak from a personal persepctive. I have lost two female friends to suicide in the last 5 months. One a very close friend indeed.

I have never had any experience of suicide in my life on any level before. These were both women in their 40s, who were outwardly very successful, professional, intelligent etc etc.

I don't want to go into any details, but they used different methods and there are very differing backstories etc. But from what I have read on here I just have two comments to make.

Firstly women in their 40s often have children who are teenagers or young adults. Children are 'flying the nest' and perhaps some women don't feel as needed as they were when their children were young. As such perhaps there isn't the same feeling of need to be there for the children as before / the same deterrent - I don't know.

Secondly somone mentioned how drug availability has been tightened up. Yes they have by GPs / shops selling over the counter meds etc. But don't forget we now have the internet where almost any drug is available to anyone online.

Both my friends were let down terribly by mental health services. Both were very much known to them. Women can be great communicators. Intelligent women can make very strong defences for themselves to professionals that they are okay when they are not.

I have learnt more about both suicide and mental health services in the last few months that I would ever wish to know. They are not effective.

bd67th Fri 16-Aug-19 18:47:06

its hardly something they are likely to tell people

I think the attempt stats are based on hospital admissions. I talk about mine a lot but then I think that the benefit of widespread mental health awareness is worth the risk that some judgey twat I didn't want to be around anyway will call me names.

FormerMediocreMale Fri 16-Aug-19 18:40:21

Im not sure how accurate statistics would be on this. If someone attempts suicide but is not successful, its hardly something they are likely to tell people - partly because they coukd be accused of attention seeking etc.

bd67th Fri 16-Aug-19 18:31:50

Paracetamol overdose used to be a big problem, we reduced the size of the packs and effectively removed it as a spur of the moment method.

The types and pack sizes of medication have changed hugely in my lifetime.
* It's a lot harder to get codeine in any kind of quantity than it was, because co-codamol is restricted to 32 tablets OTC and codeine on its own needs a prescription.
* Kaolin and morphine was the drug of choice for diarrhoea, and you could let the kaolin settle and drink the morphine syrup. My parents had a litre of it. You buy it in 200ml bottles now.
* Doctors don't often prescribe the old-fashioned tranquilisers like valium that could and would kill you if you took a handful. They are more likely to prescribe buspirone for anxiety and SSRIs for depression, both of which have much less potential to kill.

This might be why women are self-poisoning less in recent years? Whereas keeping a construction worker off the tall building he works on is much harder.

Suicide is usually fairly impulsive, and forcing a delay prevents the suicide but the underlying misery is still there. Women are probably not much happier than they were forty years ago, if at all. We didn't have to deal with revenge porn, hidden cameras in loos, and the Universal Credit rape clause back then, we might be more miserable.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Fri 16-Aug-19 18:05:56

When I made a suicide attempt it was very serious. I won't tell the tale - far too long - but what stopped me was an unexpected phone call from my DM. The tablets were already kicking in but her voice woke me up from what was a totally unbalanced state and as soon as I hung up I called 999.

Turned out one of the A & E doctors was in a relationship with a woman at the student crisis centre. I'd walk around all night and often drop in there. She'd been worried about me and I have a very unusual first name. So he guessed who I was and was very kind, as were the other staff.

But it was days before I thought I'd done the right thing calling the ambulance. I kept wishing I'd succeeded and that it was all over. It's a very painful memory.

bd67th Fri 16-Aug-19 10:32:34

taking an overdose and then having second thoughts and dealing 999. This to my mind, is not technically a full suicide attempt.

WTAF? An attempt is an attempt. An attempt with second thoughts can still succeed if enough of the poison/drug has made it into the body before medical help begins. When I made my first attempt whilst still at school, (aside: can we talk about teen girls and suicide later in this thread?), the A&E staff were very interested in how much paracetamol I had taken and exactly when I had taken it, because that informed them whether the carbon they made me drink would have a chance of working, or was it already too late and I was going to "spend two weeks in ICU turning yellow" (the duty psychiatrist's description of dying of liver failure).

Someone putting themselves at risk of death should be taken seriously, always, whether or not they change their mind. Doing otherwise is both physically dangerous to the suicidal person and is minimising their depression and gaslighting them. By saying "not a full suicide attempt", you are gaslighting suicidal women and minimising our pain.

Jesus wept, the levels of sheer ignorance of medical reality and utter lack of empathy on this thread.

bd67th Fri 16-Aug-19 08:56:24

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

For fuck's sake, this AGAIN.

* "Neutral" under patriarchy means "men as default" and women's specific needs being ignored, whether biological (e.g. meds tested and proven to work on our bodies, which almost never happens, meds are tested on men), environmental (e.g. running an gauntlet of sexual assault risk twice per day on the commute and the stress that causes), or historical (e.g. CSA).
* Erasing (aka ignoring) difference means ignoring how men often have better access to quick and violent suicide means, e.g. through work, and how this makes women less likely to succeed. A PP mentioned gas as a suicide method, as used by Sylvia Plath. When "town gas" was made by heating coal and collecting the fumes, it was a cocktail of many chemicals, carbon monoxide being one, and women would lie on the kitchen floor and put their head in the oven for a very peaceful death. The adoption of North Sea gas, which is almost pure methane, stopped us from doing that.
* Erasing difference means ignoring how women's caring responsibilities force us to stay alive.
* Erasing difference means ignoring how autism presents differently in women and girls compared to men and boys, for whom the diagnosis was written (fuck you, Simon Baron-Cohen) and consigning women and girls to the wastepaper diagnosis of EUPD/BPD.
* Erasing difference means ignoring medical misogyny, where medical professionals treat men and women completely differently and dismiss our symptoms.

It's 2019 on FWR and I'm still having to explain this. Jesus Christ on a bike.

StockTakeFucks Thu 15-Aug-19 22:36:52

Sure..if that's how you want to take it.

AngelasAshes Thu 15-Aug-19 20:45:23

Yes, because sticking to the facts and pointing out the shit you are making up must mean I think men are better than women. That I’m no feminist at all so...little old smarty pants miss you decides to launch the personal attack complete with misusing the word “ironically”

I could just as easily mean that men are more fragile than women and that’s why so many more are dying despite women trying more often. Maybe the “sub current” is that women are just so hardy, so superior to men that they can endure so much more than men. After all, the top ultra endurance athletes are women, not men. So what kills a poor weak man isn’t enough to kill a woman, so we survive suicide attempts more often.

StockTakeFucks Thu 15-Aug-19 20:31:15

Ironically there's a certain sub current in your posts(intentionally or not) that men are simply better than women...including at killing themselves.

StockTakeFucks Thu 15-Aug-19 20:29:42

* I’m having a discussion about suicide on a feminist forum.*

Suicide and depression in WOMEN. It's in the title.

* Are you saying feminism does not apply to men or care about men?*


* Maybe it’s that women are more impulsive and men more deliberate.*

AngelasAshes Thu 15-Aug-19 20:17:39

Why do more men die if women are trying more often?
Well that’s the question we’d all like an answer to. Maybe it’s how we count attempts.
I do see counting of aborted attempts as “suicide attempts” for example, taking an overdose and then having second thoughts and dealing 999. This to my mind, is not technically a full suicide attempt.
Maybe it’s that women are more impulsive and men more deliberate.
Maybe it’s that people notice sooner if a woman is “missing” than if a man is missing because of perceived vulnerabilities and so more women are found in time. For example, parents worry less if a teenage son is out 2hrs past curfew than a teenage daughter. More likely to go looking or call for help if it’s a girl/woman who is not where she is supposed or expected to be.
Could be any number of things.

AngelasAshes Thu 15-Aug-19 20:08:25

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

StockTakeFucks Thu 15-Aug-19 20:04:47

If there's absolutely no difference in methods then how come more men die than women,despite women attempting suicide 3-4 times more than men?

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