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Trends in the Relationship Between Sex and Attempted Suicide

Ronald C. Kessler and James A. McRae, Jr.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 98-110
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2136637
Page Count: 13
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Trends in the Relationship Between Sex and Attempted Suicide
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Abstract

Trends in the female:male ratio of attempted suicide are studied by assembling a data set consisting of all published normal population studies of suicide attempts conducted in the United States between 1940 and 1980. A post-World War II increase in this ratio and a subsequent decrease beginning in the 1960s are documented. The first of these changes is consistent with a post-War shift in the sex ratio of overall psychopathology discovered by Gove and Tudor (1973) in an analysis of "true prevalence" studies. The second is consistent with a shift in the rates of self-reported psychological distress found by Kessler and McRae (1981) in national survey data and by Srole and Fischer (1980) in the Midtown Manhattan Restudy. The implications of the findings for current thinking about the influence of sex roles on mental illness are discussed.

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