Zeitschrift für Depression und Angst

Zeitschrift für Depression und Angst
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ISSN: 2167-1044


Gender Differences in Suicidal Risk Factors among Individuals with Mood Disorders

Sandra J. Weiss, Maria Muzik, Kristina M. Deligiannidis, Robert T. Ammerman, Constance Guille and Heather A. Flynn

Objective: Suicide is a leading cause of death, especially for individuals who have a diagnosed mood disorder. There is conflicting evidence regarding factors that may heighten risk for suicide and whether they differ for men and women. The aims of this study were to identify the degree to which gender influences suicide risk among patients with mood disorders, or moderates the effects of other demographic and clinical suicide risk factors.

Methods: The sample included 268 women and 154 men who were part of a geographically diverse, multi-center registry of the National Network of Depression Centers. Measures of depression, anxiety, childhood adversity, psychiatric diagnosis, living arrangement and employment status were analyzed, along with gender, to determine their association with suicidal risk.

Results: Multiple regression analysis indicated that men had greater suicide risk than women. In addition, factors that predicted suicide risk differed by gender. Childhood adversity was more strongly associated with suicide risk for women (beta=0.22, p<0.000) than for men (beta=0.04, NS) while anxiety predicted suicide risk for men (beta=0.25, p<0.000) but not for women (beta=0.05, NS). Severity of depression was the primary predictor for both sexes (beta=0.79, p<0.000). Specific mood diagnosis, living arrangement and employment status did not predict suicide risk.

Conclusions: Findings indicate the importance of regularly assessing severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms, with attention to anxiety as a key factor that may heighten suicide risk for men. Results suggest a profound role for early cumulative trauma in exacerbating later suicide risk for women, indicating a need to also screen for childhood adversity. Further research is warranted to identify the gender-specific effect of different adversities and types of anxiety in development of suicidal ideation and suicide completion.