Social life may be key to suicide prevention for women

August 28, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

US News & World Report

A recent study of 46- to 71-year-old women in the United States concluded that social isolation is a significant risk factor for suicide in this population. Friendships and social connections were found to be protective factors even for women with depression and other mental health issues. According to lead study author Alexander Tsai, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Center for Global Health of Massachusetts General Hospital, the suicide rate among middle-aged women has been rising in the U.S., and so has their social isolation. “The number of women who now say they have no one to talk to about important things has tripled in the past two decades,” he said. Contacts that were found to be protective included not only friendships but also involvement in neighborhood associations and religious groups. For those who have trouble reaching out and forming new connections, Dr. Tsai suggested that “Psychotherapy can often help both women and men troubleshoot and problem-solve in order to help deepen their social ties.”

Spark Extra! Read about recent research discussing the importance of social integration as a protective factor against suicide in older men.