Association Between Social Integration and Suicide Among Women in the United States

Middle-aged women with a solid social life face a significantly lower risk for suicide than those who live in relative isolation, new research suggests. Moreover, friendships and outside activities were found to offer protection against suicide even for women who struggled with mental health issues, such as depression.

“Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among middle-age (American) women, and it’s been going up in recent years,” said study lead author Dr. Alexander Tsai, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Center for Global Health of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Many factors besides mental illness probably contribute to suicide risk, Tsai said. “For example, our social networks are becoming narrower and narrower, and the number of women who now say they have no one to talk to about important things has tripled in the past two decades.”

The bottom-line, he said, “is that we found that social isolation places middle-aged women at a higher risk for suicide.” Having social relationships is protective, the researchers concluded.

Population of focus: Women aged 46 to 71 years in the United States

Links to resource

Date: 2015

Journal: JAMA Psychiatry