The importance of taking gender-specific social determinants of suicide in the Americas into account when developing risk reduction interventions and prevention strategies has been highlighted in a new study, carried out by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
It was found that, while homicide and alcohol/substance use was linked to an increase in suicide mortality in males, the main factor among females was educational inequality. For both sexes, unemployment was found to have a correlation with an increase in suicide mortality, as well.
As such, suicide mortality rates could be reduced by increasing employment opportunities, as well as improving access to and availability of health services, especially those related to substance use. For those in rural and under-populated areas, improving social connections could prove beneficial, another recommended suicide prevention strategy.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Renato Oliveira e Souza – head of mental health and substance use at the PAHO – said: “In order to prevent suicide, we must go beyond limiting access to methods of suicide, strengthening socioemotional skills and improving access to mental healthcare.
“We must also address the contextual factors that affect men and women differently, which requires an all-of-society approach.”
The study – published in The Lancet journal – also highlighted that the average suicide mortality rate among males in the Americas dropped as per capita health spending grew.
However, the mortality rate among females declined as the number of doctors employed per 10,000 population increased. For both, the rate fell as moderate population density increased, highlighting the necessity of providing support for those in isolated rural areas.
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