Researchers have taken advantage of Sweden’s comprehensive health records to determine important risk factors for suicide.
The landmark study, a collaboration between Lund University in Sweden and Stanford University, showed that the rate of suicide among men is almost three times that of women.
In the U.S., the rate is even higher — almost four times as many males as females die by suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Being young, single and having little education were stronger risk factors for suicide among men, while mental illness was a stronger risk factor among women.
Unemployment was the strongest social risk factor among women, whereas being single was the strongest among men.
The strength of the study was robust in that it covered a range of different diseases in both inpatient and outpatient care as well as social factors.
This perspective allowed researchers to uncover factors that are particularly important when assessing the risk of suicide.
“Better strategies are needed for collaboration between different disciplines and wider society in order to reduce the risk of suicide for individuals who suffer from, for example, depression, anxiety, COPD, asthma and certain social risk factors,” said principal investigator Jan Sundquist, M.D., Ph.D.
Of those who committed suicide, 29.5 percent of women and 21.7 percent of men had visited a doctor in the two weeks prior to their suicide, and 57.1 percent of women and 44 percent of men had visited a doctor within the 13 weeks prior to their suicide.
“This shows that many had contact with the health service a relatively short time before committing suicide,” Sundquist said. “The results have clinical significance for those working in both primary care and other outpatient and inpatient care, including psychiatry.
“Besides the health service, social support services may need to be involved in the work to reduce the number of suicides in society,” he said.
Source: Lund University