Women make nearly four times as many suicide attempts as men, but men succeed four times as often. Men favour bloodier methods: most use a gun, whereas less than a third of women do. Women may be better at asking for help; overall, they are two and a half times more likely than men to take anti-depressants.
Suicide in America: An awful hole
Why more Americans are killing themselves
Jan 31st 2015
BEING depressed is like having a terrible headache, says one Atlanta businessman. Except that a few days of rest do not stop the pain: “You’re just expected to keep going.” Trying to “man up”, he sought little help for his condition, choosing to hide it instead. “It all gets so debilitating that you don’t want to go on,” he explains.
He tried to kill himself more than once; fortunately, his attempts came to nothing. But the same cannot be said for a growing share of Americans. The suicide rate has risen from 11 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 13 seven years later. In the time it takes you to read this article, six Americans will try to kill themselves; in another ten minutes one will succeed.
Over 40,000 Americans took their own lives in 2012—more than died in car crashes—says the American Association of Suicidology. Mondays in May see the most incidents. The rates are highest in Wyoming and Montana, perhaps because guns—which are more effective than pills—are so common there (see chart). Nationally, guns are used in half of all successful suicides.
What drives people to self-destruction? Those who suffer from depression are, unsurprisingly, most at risk. The suicide rate also rises when times are hard. During the Depression it jumped to a record 19 per 100,000. It grew after the recent financial crisis too. “Even just uncertainty over employment” makes people worry a lot, notes Yeats Conwell, a psychiatrist at the University of Rochester Medical Centre.