While it is well-known that women are more likely to attempt suicide than men, little is known about risk and protective factors underlying this difference.
Using data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions Wave III (NESARC-III), we compared women and men with and without self-reported lifetime suicide attempts to identify sociodemographic, clinical, and behavioral characteristics that were associated with suicide attempts for each gender. We then examined the interaction of gender and risk factors to identify specific factors that have a significantly different association with the risk of suicide attempts by gender. Multivariate analyses identified factors that were independently associated with a significant interaction of gender and risk of suicide attempt and the extent to which these interactions accounted for the greater risk of suicide attempts among women.
In unadjusted analysis, women had 1.78 greater odds of self-reported lifetime suicide attempts than men (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.61–1.96). While men and women shared similar risk and protective factors for suicide attempts, several factors were associated with significantly different risks for women than men. In multivariate analysis, these factors only partially accounted for the gender difference in lifetime risk of suicide attempt (adjusted odds ratio, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.12–2.08).
Several risk factors for suicide attempts appear to have significantly different magnitude of association among women and men; however, these differences only partially account for gender difference in risk for suicide attempts, suggesting that other factors, not measured in this study, are at play.