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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Jan;19(1):5-7. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2009.1788.

Precipitating circumstances of suicide among women of reproductive age in 16 U.S. States, 2003-2007.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for women between the ages of 15 and 44 years, exceeding deaths due to homicide, HIV, cerebrovascular disease (CVD), and diabetes (CDC, 2009). Furthermore, almost half of the suicide deaths in women occur in women of reproductive age, yet little is known about the determinants of suicide in young adult and middle-age women. Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) were analyzed to describe the leading circumstances associated with suicide among women aged 15-44 years. From 2003 to 2007, there were 4203 suicide deaths among women 15-44 years of age, which represents nearly half (46%) of the suicide deaths among females. Precipitating circumstances were known in 3784 cases. The most frequently cited circumstances for these suicide decedents were current mental health problem (60%), having ever been treated for a mental health problem (54%), current depressed mood (44%), and problems with a current or former intimate partner (36%). Thirty-seven percent had a history of suicide attempts. Twenty-eight percent disclosed their intent to die by suicide to another person with enough time for someone to have intervened. To prevent suicide in women of reproductive age, multiple approaches should be taken, including but not limited to appropriate and effective mental health treatment, access to support systems, familial education in recognizing the signs of suicide, and understanding the options available to get help for someone at risk.

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