I’ve been away at a Leadership Conference for the past few days so I have not had the chance to write as much as I would have wanted, but while at the Conference I learned a lot of interesting facts about how far sexism is ingrained in the world.
I also learned how sexism can skew the reasoning behind data.
Part of the Conference was a series of lectures. One of which, QPR (question, persuade, refer) dealt with suicide prevention.
A lot of data was talked about with what groups were most likely to complete suicide and a lot of statistics came up about the differences between male and female suicides. The most up to date information is the data of 2009 (there is no up to date data for 2012 or even 2011 for the United States) but the information we were given at the Conference was from 2007. The data listed below is from the conference.
- Men are 4x more likely to complete suicide than women
- women are 2-3x more likely to attempt suicide than men
- women are more likely to attempt due to relationship problems are more likely to use less violent means of death (pills and poisonings)
- men are more likely to use more violent means (hangings and firearms)
The leaders of the workshop asked us to insert our opinions as to why this data is so. It’s unfortunate but the information seems to be supporting classic stereotypes that women are the weaker of the species, have less conviction in the actions, and do not have testosterone so they are naturally less violent and aggressive. This is only surface level analysis and can barely be considered analysis at all.
Why are men more likely to complete suicide than women? They are less likely to talk about their feelings for one thing, being raised in a sexist society where men can never be feminine, and another is that if they use more violent means then of course they are more likely to succeed. How often do you shoot a bullet through your head and live?
Which makes the next question why are men more likely to use such violence? The answer is that it’s more culturally acceptable. When violence makes you a man of course it is going to impact every decision you make, even the decision to kill yourself. In addition, who is more likely to own a gun or know how to tie a noose, a man or a woman? A man of course. Men have the means to kill themselves in such a way and women do not. There is nothing biological about it.
The same goes for why more women attempt but do not complete suicide. When they do not have access to the aggressive means of men how can it be expected that pills will always finish the job? Also, of course if a woman does not complete then she has attempted, which explains why the attempts are so high for women. As for women killing themselves over relationships this is just as rooted in culture as everything else. Women are taught to value themselves based on their relationships whether with friends or with spouse and to place so much stock in their ability to maintain these relationships. When things go awry and those connections are all a woman is taught to value about herself what else does she have? According to data, not enough to live for.
There is nothing biology that makes women inferior to men. Women are equal. Society is not.
This blog is dedicated to anyone who has ever overcome suicide, or known someone who has killed themselves.