Differences in Suicide Among Men and Women

Official statistics and research studies have found that there are a number of gender differences in suicide. These differences are known as the gender paradox of suicide. While women are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, for example, men are much more likely to take their own lives.

While it is difficult to discuss this topic, it has to be stressed that this knowledge is important if we are to reduce the number of deaths by suicide in the United States and around the world each year.

The World Health Organization reports that 800,000 people die by suicide each year worldwide, while suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.1

Complicating the issue is the fact that much of the research on this topic doesn't include nonbinary people. Understanding these gender differences can help experts better design and develop prevention and intervention strategies.

Information presented in this article may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Suicide Attempt and Risk of Death

Suicide statistics reveal that women are roughly three times more likely to attempt suicide, though men are two to four times more likely to die by suicide.2

 

 Compared to men, women show higher rates of suicidal thinking, non-fatal suicidal behavior, and suicide attempts.3

The differences in attempts and completed suicides in women have erroneously led many people to believe that suicide attempts in women are often a method of getting attention rather than a serious risk. This is far from true.

It's important to note that among women, an attempted (but failed) suicide attempt is the greatest risk factor for suicide in the future, and all suicide attempts, whether in men or in women, need to be taken very seriously.

Suicide Methods

One of the most important reasons for the difference between suicide attempts and completed suicides between men and women is the method of suicide used.

Men tend to choose violent (more lethal) suicide methods, such as firearms, hanging, and asphyxiation, whereas women are more likely to overdose on medications or drugs.4

Suicide Methods in Men

  • Firearms

  • Hanging

  • Asphyxiation or suffocation

  • Jumping

  • Moving objects

  • Sharp objects

  • Vehicle exhaust gas

Suicide Methods in Women

  • Self-poisoning

  • Exsanguination (bleeding out from a cut such as a "slit" wrist)

  • Drowning

  • Hanging

  • Firearms

Suicide statistics

Learn the latest published statistics on suicide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2018, retrieved March 1, 2020. Access additional verified data from the CDC.