Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 37, Issue 10, pp 457–459

Gender differences in self-reported minor mental disorder and its association with suicide

A 20-year follow-up of the Renfrew and Paisley cohort
  • D. Gunnell
  • F. Rasul
  • S. A. Stansfeld
  • C. L. Hart
  • G. Davey Smith
ORIGINAL PAPER

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-002-0579-y

Cite this article as:
Gunnell, D., Rasul, F., Stansfeld, S. et al. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2002) 37: 457. doi:10.1007/s00127-002-0579-y

Abstract

Background: Suicide rates are around three times higher in men than women; in contrast women have a higher prevalence of community-diagnosed depression. To investigate this paradox we examined the association of General Health Questionnaire (GHQ)-caseness (score ≥ 4), a measure of possible minor mental disorder, with suicide risk in a general population cohort. Methods: Data were derived from a cohort study based on the 8,466 men and women in the Renfrew and Paisley cohort who completed a 30-item GHQ in the period from 1972 to 1976 and who were followed up to 1995 for all-cause and suicide mortality. Results: The long-term suicide risk associated with possible minor mental disorder was higher in men [hazard ratio 6.78 (1.36–33.71)] than women [hazard ratio 1.66 (0.43–6.45)]; test for interaction between gender and GHQ with respect to suicide risk: p = 0.09. Conclusion: These findings indicate either that the long-term risk of suicide in the context of a past episode of minor mental disorder is higher in males than females or that there are sex differences in the validity of responses to mental health screening questionnaires. Further research is required to replicate our finding in larger studies and, if confirmed, clarify which explanation underlies it.

Key words minor mental disorder – depression – gender differences – suicide – cohort study – Renfrew and Paisley

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Gunnell
    • 1
  • F. Rasul
    • 2
  • S. A. Stansfeld
    • 2
  • C. L. Hart
    • 3
  • G. Davey Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 2PR, UK. D. J.Gunnell@Bristol.ac.ukGB
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, St Bartholomew's and The Royal London, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Basic Medical Sciences Building, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UKGB
  3. 3.Department of Public Health, University of Glasgow, 1 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow G12 8RZ, SCOGB