Despite women’s risk factors for suicidal behaviours, the suicide rate is lower for women compared to men , meaning that women often suffer the consequences of a partner’s suicide which may leave women more vulnerable to their own suicide attempts.
Suicide rates also vary by age, with the highest rate of 10 per 100,000 for women aged 50-54. Men aged 45-49 have the highest suicide rate for males with 29 deaths per 100 000 . The higher suicide rate in men compared to women may be attributed to a number of gender-related factors. Women are more likely than men to seek social support and/or professional help for emotional problems and to be more responsive to psychological and behavioural therapies for depression than men. Also, women are more likely to use less lethal methods of suicide than men and are alive post-attempt to seek help. Women may also be more likely to access social and health services because of better verbal and/or social skills.
Recent data suggest that Canadian women are beginning to use more lethal methods (hanging, suffocation, firearms, jumping), which account for a greater percentage of deaths. Between 2000 and 2004, 49% of female suicides involved lethal methods compared to 42% of female suicides resulting from self-poisoning .
Gender-specific approaches to suicide prevention are needed to address gender differences in suicide ideation and attempts. Since women are more likely to access services for a regular physician , regular physicians may be an important access point for women for women with suicidal ideation. Since women may end up in the emergency department following a suicide attempt, emergency department nurses may also play a pivotal role in frontline work with suicidal women. Women may also be more responsive to talk therapies, such as psychotherapy, which has been identified as a useful tool for individuals who have attempted suicide .