640.0 kb - PDF
Suicide is a gendered problem. An in-depth understanding of the role of gender as a factor influencing suicide risk is key to improving suicide prevention for both, men and women.
Men in the UK and the Republic of Ireland are significantly more likely to die by suicide than women – a trend that has held true for decades. However, research also consistently shows that women are more likely to self-harm and attempt suicide than men. While this ‘gender paradox’ in suicide rates is well documented, the reasons behind it are complex.
Our research briefing collates what we know about gender and suicide, some of the reasons why the gender paradox in suicide exists, and how some risk and protective factors for suicide may affect men and women differently.
In this briefing we focus on comparisons between men and women, which reflects the majority of research on gender and suicide. However, it is important to recognise that suicide is major concern among trans and non-binary people too, who experience a set of specific risk factors for suicide, and whose experiences challenge many assumptions in our understanding of the role of gender as factor influencing suicide risk, and suicidal behaviours. Suicide among trans and non-binary people is an under-researched topic, one that deserves careful and in-depth exploration.
- Research shows that men tend to choose more lethal methods of suicide than women, and because of this, suicide attempts made by men are considered ‘serious’ more frequently than attempts by women.
- Social expectations placed on men mean that they may be less likely to disclose or seek help for suicidal thoughts or behaviours, compared to women.
- Some risk factors for suicide may affect men and women in different ways. For example, relationship breakdown increases suicide risk more significantly in men. Other risk factors may be more common in one gender – for example, women are more likely to self-harm than men.
Read more in our research briefing.