Not only have suicide rates skyrocketed a full 28 percent over the last two decades, it turns out one gender is more disproportionately affected than the other: women.
Numerically speaking, the vast majority of suicides are still among men. According to the Association Foundation for Suicide Prevention, white men accounted for seven out of 10 suicides in 2016, and men continue to commit suicide 3.5 times more often than women.
However, the suicide rate among women is increasing far more rapidly than among their male counterparts. According to this, the suicide rate among women shot up a full 50 percent between 2000 and 2016, compared to a 21 percent increase among men. And, while the suicide rate among men increases by about 1 percent a year, it’s up to 3 percent for women.
While no concrete cause has been identified, experts have speculated this disturbing phenomenon is largely because more and more women are struggling to manage full-time jobs along with being wives, housekeepers and moms. This constant stress, experts say, is having a negative affect on mental health, causing a concerning trend in female suicide rates.
“I think one of the things that hasn’t been talked about a lot is the fact that women are in this very difficult place where they are working ― and they’re working full time, sometimes two jobs ― and they’re still the caretakers at home,” said Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education. “And oftentimes, when you combine those two things and you add that they’re a single parent, that stress is really hard on people.”
That’s long been true, and it’s hardly a surprise. Juggling a full-time job, a house, a marriage and children is a massive undertaking for anyone with only 24 hours in any given day. Nix the marriage part of that combo meal, and the other responsibilities increase exponentially.
However, while the issue of women becoming overwhelmed by the stress of balancing full-time work and full-time home life isn’t new, we’re still not allowed to propose realistic solutions to this crisis.
We aren’t allowed to say that women should stay home with their children – that’s sexist.
We aren’t allowed to suggest that women cut back their work to part-time – it would create a wage gap, and that's sexist.
We aren’t allowed to criticize the social glorification of single motherhood – that’s sexist.
We aren’t allowed to suggest that parents be married and stay together to tackle the massive responsibilities of family life as a couple – that’s so 1952.
We aren’t allowed to point out that men and women may actually be different, so as to shoulder different burdens and responsibilities within their families – who are you, June Cleaver?
We can suggest that women just avoid getting married and having children altogether – well, until you grapple with the fact that women report wanting more children than they can actually have, while an increasing percentage say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives.
So around we go. Faced with a rising suicide crisis and seemingly no social permissible way to solve it, it seems we’re doomed to watch as more and more women struggle under the weight and stress of life before finally deciding that it just isn’t worth living anymore.
And if anything is sexist, that's it.