Health Status > Health Indicators
Mental Illness and Suicide
Mental illnesses affect men and women differently:
some disorders are more common in women, while some illnesses display
different symptoms. Among women interviewed in 2001-03, 23 percent
had experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year compared to
fewer than 14 percent of men. Some of the anxiety disorders most
common among women include specific phobias, social phobia, post-traumatic
stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Mood disorders,
such as depressive disorders and bipolar disorder, are also more
common among women than men (11.6 versus 7.7 percent, respectively).
Although a majority of people who suffer from
mental illness do not commit suicide, mental illness is a primary
risk factor. Over 90 percent of suicide deaths in the United States
are associated with mental illness and/or alcohol and substance
abuse.1 The rate of suicide is substantially higher for
males than females; however, it is estimated that there are three
suicide attempts among females for every one attempt among males.
In 2003, female suicide death rates were highest
among non-Hispanic Whites (6.4 deaths per 100,000 women), followed
by American Indian/Alaska Natives (4.8 per 100,000). Lower rates
were found among Asian/Pacific Islander females (3.8 per 100,000),
non-Hispanic Black females (2.4 per 100,000), and Hispanic females
(2.1 per 100,000).
1 Goldsmith SK, Pellmar TC, Kleinman AM, Bunney
WE, eds. Reducing suicide: a national imperative. Committee on Pathophysiology
and Prevention of Adolescent and Adult Suicide, Board on Neuroscience
and Behavioral Health, Institute of Medicine; 2002.