Suicide is making headlines thanks to Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s decision to move on to the next chapter of life using their own fatal creativity. Suicide isn’t a new phenomenon, but the rate of suicides in women is. According to a National Center for Health Statistics study, suicide is rising in women and girls. But male suicides still happen more often than women suicides, according to NCHC’s Dr. Holly Hedegaard. In 2016, 21 males out of 100,000 males took their own life. That same year, only six females out of 100,000 committed suicide.
Even though the female rate of suicide is low, there was a 50 percent jump in female suicides between 2000 and 2016, according to Dr. Hedegaard. During the same period, male suicides increased by 21 percent. Middle age women seem to be the group experiencing the largest percentage of suicides, according to Hedegaard and her colleagues. The suicide rate for women between the ages of 45 and 64 jumped by 60 percent. That is a wake-up call for the medical profession, according to Emory University psychologist Nadine Kaslow. Kaslow did not participate in the Hedegaard study, but she thinks the trend to commit suicides is disturbing.
Dr. Kaslow believes people commit suicide because of stress. And according to the American Psychological Association, Kaslow is right. Women, especially middle-aged women, are feeling an unprecedented amount of pressure, and that pressure is coming from different sources. Women are dealing with office and home responsibilities, and those responsibilities are more demanding in this IT age. Plus, many middle-aged women are taking care of their aging parents living on borrowed time, thanks to new medical treatments and new drugs. Women see their quality of life slipping away as they age, and they don’t want to depend on drugs and new medical procedures to live.
Being a single parent also plays a role in the rise of suicides in women. Playing the role of mother and father is a daunting and thankless position to experience for some women, according to Kaslow. So those women end their lives when their children become adults.
But it’s not just middle-aged women who are making the suicide rate in females increase. Young girls are ending their lives by suicide to get away from parental and social demands. Some health officials think suicide is the way to leave this reality if men and women are experiencing debilitating and fatal health issues. But there is still a religious stigma associated with suicide, and that stigma won’t go away anytime soon.