Sorry to play Captain Bringdown on a Friday, but a promise is a promise. Microkhan recently vowed to explore the female suicide rate in China, and by golly, that’s what’s gonna happen in this here post. If you want sunshine and ponies instead, click here; otherwise, read on.
China is the only nation in which the female suicide rate exceeds that for males. (Both are relatively low, however, at 13.0 per 100,000 for the men and 14.8 per 100,000 for the ladies.) Even researchers who’ve dedicated their careers to the topic aren’t entirely sure why that’s the case. But the best guess comes in this 2006 paper, from which the graph above is taken. The female suicide rate is only appreciably higher than the male one in one age demographic—roughly 25 to 39 years old. Unfortunately, despite the One Child Policy, China’s population is still relatively young, so that demographic tilt is enough to account for the overall discrepancy.
More importantly, the researchers point out that the majority of female suicides occur in rural areas, where lethal pesticides are easily accessible. Ingesting these pesticides is the chief means of suicide among females. Does this mean men prefer, uh, more manly ways of ending their lives? Or are rural men simply moving to urban areas in greater numbers than their female counterparts? (Cities have significantly lower suicide rates than rural areas in China.)
The paper doesn’t squarely address these questions, but it does suggest that urban suicide rates are catching up with rural ones. One big reason? More suicides by charcoal burning in cities like Hong Kong.