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Researchers have long puzzled over suicidal behavior. In this paper, we posit that when people are unable to attract mates given unfavorable sex ratios, suicide rates increase. Sex ratio, the proportion of males in a population, is linked to a variety of behaviors, including marriage stability, violence, depression, and infidelity. We test whether suicide rates are associated with county-level sex ratios utilizing data from 1999 to 2018, controlling for a variety of factors known to be associated with suicide risk. We find that sex ratio is associated with suicide rates, where a greater proportion of males in a county (age 35–74) is associated with an increased rate of suicide for these males. Mediation analyses show that these effects are mediated by male marriage rates. Counter to predictions, male-biased sex ratios also tend to be associated with increased female suicide rates for women aged 35 to 74, and this effect is mediated by the unmarried sex ratio (i.e., when there are more unmarried men compared to unmarried women in a county, there is increased female suicide). Overall, these results suggest that male-biased sex ratios are associated with suicide rates for both men and women, but the mediators vary.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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