Firearm Suicide Methods Vary by Gender: Study

Women less likely to shoot themselves in face or head, researchers find

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Guns are the most common method of suicide in the United States, but men are more likely to shoot themselves in the face or head than women are, a new study finds.

But vanity is not necessarily the reason why women who commit suicide with a firearm are more likely to avoid methods that result in facial disfiguration, said study authors Valerie Callanan of the University of Akron and Mark Davis of the Criminal Justice Research Center at Ohio State University.

The researchers analyzed 621 suicides that occurred in Summit County, Ohio, between 1997 and 2006, and found that men were nearly two times more likely to shoot themselves in the face/head than women.

The study, released online recently in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Sex Roles, also revealed that for every one-unit increase in blood-alcohol level, there was a 10 percent increase in the likelihood of using this method to commit suicide.

"To suggest that women are less likely to shoot themselves in the face or head because they are more concerned about their appearance than men is to minimize the significance of the act of suicide. What we do know is that those experiencing stressful life events are at far greater risk of employing an especially lethal method of suicide than those not experiencing such events," the researchers concluded in a journal news release.

They also pointed out that understanding differences in suicide methods used by women and men is important in suicide prevention efforts.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about suicide.

SOURCE: Sex Roles, news release, Aug. 30, 2011


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