Young Women, Perfectionism, and Suicide: Is There a Connection?
According to the ONS, there has been an increase in the suicide rates of those women aged between 20 and 24
Perfectionism and social pressure are some of the reasons used to explain these increases
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Many young women seem to feel they are not good enough; and this may be reinforced by the expectations of others who think these young women should be doing better than they are; look better than they do. It is estimated that one in four young women suffer from anxiety, depression, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder. Suicide is often driven by stress and/or depression so the demands or expectations of others are not likely to be help.
As I see on a regular basis within my own practice, many young people – both male and female – seem to have more insecurities than previous generations.
Social media has often been identified as the culprit; the incessant need to keep up with the apparently fantastic lives of other people – but this is often a fairy tale and bears no resemblance to what is actually happening in real life. Yet, social media can be a source of comfort and support. However, we need to be mindful that searches on the internet around researching and planning suicide is fairly commonplace.
Modern life is certainly stressful – the expectation to be ‘the best and nothing but the best’ is a constant message communicated in our 24/7 lives. If young women ‘buy’ into the goal of aiming for a perfect lifestyle and find it is not achievable – then, once again, they may feel they have failed.
The increase in suicide may be also linked to a lack of personal investment in the future – if people do not feel they have a stake in society or find themselves working towards a goal which seems increasingly unachievable then the future can look very bleak indeed. A lot of this may be down to unrealistic expectations; but also to the way the world is right now with a lack of affordable housing, a shortage of reasonably paid, satisfying jobs and secure and happy relationships.
Relationships can often leave young women they are not feeling good enough.
I have written extensively about the need for men to talk about their feelings. The good news is statistics are indicating that the suicide rate amongst men in their 40s is beginning to reduce. So perhaps something is changing.
It is equally important young women can learn to talk about their feelings, too. Not talking about how we feel is not down to gender. Many men wind up in my therapy room because their female partners have ‘sent them’. I believe we all need the space and safety to express how we feel.
Samaritans – Freephone 116 123