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Female students more likely to have suicidal thoughts than males

Interventions aimed at preventing suicide among students should be designed separately for males and females, say UK researchers who studied more than 1,000 university students.

Interventions aimed at preventing suicide among students should be designed separately for males and females, say UK researchers who studied more than 1,000 university students.


Female students were more likely to have suicidal thoughts than males. Picture: iStock

The study set out to examine potential gender differences in students’ suicidal thoughts over a 2-week period. It found that the prevalence of suicidal thoughts among females, at 68%, was significantly higher than among males, at 54%. 

The researchers also looked at the relationship between interpersonal beliefs and behaviours and suicide, and found that having high levels of emotional stability was a preventative factor for both males and females. 

6,000

The number of people dying by suicide every year in the UK. For every death, there are approximately 25 suicide attempts 

Defeat, goal disengagement and depression were associated with suicidal thoughts among men but not among women, while entrapment, perceived burdensomeness and hopelessness were significant risk factors among women but not among men. 

Separate interventions 

The study also found that 33% of participants had made at least one suicide attempt in their lives. 

Lead study author Katie Dhingra, Leeds Beckett University senior lecturer in criminological psychology, said: ‘Our results suggest the need to develop and provide separate interventions for males and females aimed at different factors.  

‘For men this can include helping them to engage with new, more realistic positive thinking, while for women strategies that target feelings of entrapment and burdensomeness may be more appropriate.’ 


Dhingra K et al (2016). Gender Differences in Risk and Protective factors for Resolved Plans and Preparations for Suicide among University Students. Suicidology Online 2016; 7: 73-82

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