Original Paper

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 857-869

First online:

Gender differences in suicide methods

  • Valerie J. CallananAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, The University of Akron
  • , Mark S. DavisAffiliated withCriminal Justice Research Center, The Ohio State University Email author 

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Gender differences in suicide completion rates have been attributed to the differences in lethality of suicide methods chosen by men and women, but few empirical studies have investigated factors other than demographic characteristics that might explain this differential.


Data from the 621 suicides in Summit County, Ohio during 1997–2006 were disaggregated by gender to compare known correlates of suicide risk on three methods of suicide—firearm, hanging and drug poisoning.


Compared to women, men who completed suicide with firearms were more likely to be married and committed the act at home. Unmarried men were likelier to hang themselves than married men, but unmarried women were less likely to hang themselves than married women. Men with a history of depression were more likely to suicide by hanging, but women with depression were half as likely to hang themselves compared to the women without a history of depression. Men with a history of substance abuse were more likely to suicide by poisoning than men without such history, but substance abuse history had no influence on women’s use of poisoning to suicide. For both sexes, the odds of suicide by poisoning were significantly higher for those on psychiatric medications.


Suicide methods Gender Firearms Poisoning Hanging