Suicide rates in menopausal women rise as partners urged to spot warning signs

SUICIDE rates in women of menopausal age have risen, and partners are being urged to spot warning signs.

Rates among 45 to 54-year-old women have risen six per cent in 20 years. It is the same age band that menopause typically occurs.


Menopause Experts Group, which produced the stats, is urging women to be aware that their symptoms of low mood, depression or anxiety could be due to the menopause.

These symptoms can come on for a number of reasons, including the hormone fluctuations in the years before and after periods stop – from the 40s onwards.

Other stressors can make women feel unable to cope, such as juggling childcare, looking after older parents and a career.

But if women are struggling with the overwhelming menopause change, there is treatment available to help balance hormones, such as HRT.

Dee Murray, founder and CEO of the Menopause Experts Group, said: “Menopause affects every woman differently, but for many it can bring unpleasant physical, emotional and psychological symptoms that can be challenging to deal with.

“Mental health issues like depression, anxiety and stress are hard to deal with, and many women will not know that they can commonly be caused by menopause. 

“Women who are not aware they are going through menopause can be caught off guard by feelings of worthlessness, confusion and a complete lack of confidence.

“We cannot ignore what is happening or let these women suffer.”

The research found that those aged 45 to 54 have the highest suicide rate among women, with 7 deaths per 100,000 in the year 2020.

It’s 14 per cent higher than a low of 6.1 seen in 1999.

Women in this age group buck the trend of declining suicide rates among females generally, with the figure for over-55s' rates dropping 28 per cent in two decades. 

Those of menopausal age have more than double the suicide incidence rate of teenagers – 2.8 in those aged between 15 and 19.

The rate for 65 to 69-year-olds was only 3.7 per 100,000.

Dee said: “Many women in their 60s are happier post-menopause as the body and brain adjust to new hormone levels. 

“This clearly has an impact on their psychology and may partly explain why suicide rates drop off later in life.”

Data from Samaritans also shows women aged between 45 and 49 had the highest suicide rates in 2020.

Men are also most likely to take their own life at this age, but with high rates at points of young and old age, too.

Menopause Experts Group, a resource organisation, called on medics to become better trained in the basics of menopause.

But they added: “Women going through menopause need support from friends, family and colleagues, and we would recommend that everyone takes our free training so they are ready for whatever perimenopause and menopause throw at them.”

It comes days after a grieving husband urged other men to become familiar with menopause symptoms, after his wife took her life aged 56.

David Salmon said he believed menopause was a “big contribution” to his wife Linda’s poor mental health was the menopause, and Covid worries “pushed her over the edge”.

He had not realised the menopause can cause suicidal thoughts in women, the BBC reported, and knowing before may have helped Linda get treatment.

David said: "If you are in a similar situation, I would say help your wife, hold her hand, get her through it.

"You don't want to be where I am today, nobody needs to do that."

The Sun launched the Fabulous Menopause campaign in October to help raise awareness of the menopause, while also improving access to HRT. 

Exclusive research carried out for the campaign revealed half of menopausal women suffered depression and mental health issues.

One of the campaign's supporters Diane Danzebrink came inches away from taking her own life after the menopause drove her to rock bottom.

She was plunged into a surgical menopause in 2012 after having a hysterectomy, and in the months following, became a shell of her former self.

That was until a doctor recognised her depression was due to a severe drop in oestrogen, which was treated with HRT.

Diane, 55, who launched the Menopause Support group, told The Sun: “The scariest thing of all is that the greatest risk of suicide amongst women is between the ages of 45 and 54 – the age of perimenopause through to post menopause for most.  

“But we don't have any research on that at all.

“Anecdotally, I’ve certainly heard from women who have said their mother committed suicice at a certain age, and now they reflect on it, they know they were going through the menopause.”

For anyone struggling to cope, call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or contact other sources of support, such as those listed on the NHS’s help for suicidal thoughts webpage.

You’re Not Alone

Every 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
  • Movember, www.uk.movember.com
  • Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm

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