Breast Augmentation and Suicide

Breast augmentation is supposed to give a woman what she wants: a more beautiful body and loads of self-confidence. But do breast implants really make women happy? Or is breast augmentation just a band-aid solution for a more serious psychological problem?

Implants and Depression: Investigating the Link

Recent studies suggest that there is a link between women who surgically increase their breast size and suicide. One study found that women who enhanced their breasts had a suicide rate that was three times higher than women who had not.

In another study, women who had breast implants had a suicide rate that was 73% higher than that of the general population. The average age of the 17,000 plus participants who'd had breast enhancement was 32.

Yet another study found that women who had breast expansion surgery had a suicide rate that was two times higher than women who'd had breast reduction surgery, or other types of cosmetic surgery.

These findings suggest that women who turn to plastic surgery to enhance the appearance of their breasts have higher rates of undetected psychological problems, including low self-esteem, low self-confidence and mental illness, including depression.

It is important to note that there is no causal relationship between breast augmentation surgery and suicide; rather, pre-existing psychological and behavioral problems seem to be the root of the higher incidence of suicide among women who've undergone breast enhancement surgery. This is also indicated in the fact that more than 90% of the approximately 236,000 women who had breast implants in the United States in 2002 said they were satisfied with the procedure.

Other variables that can increase the risk of suicide include:

  • age
  • race
  • marital status
  • smoking
  • alcohol abuse

Breast augmentation surgery includes a full medical consultation, where the doctor discusses the risks and benefits of the procedure with the patient; the surgeon is also required to refer patients who she considers is in need of psychological help to a mental health expert. Unfortunately, surgeons aren't extensively trained in psychology so some women undergoing breast augmentation surgery don't get the attention and treatment they need for their mental health issues.

Depression: Signs of Suicide

Signs that someone is seriously depressed and may be considering suicide include:

  • Talk of death: including talking of jumping, shooting oneself or dying in general
  • Recent loss: the individual may have recently lost a loved one or a job or an important relationship may have recently ended
  • Change in personality: the individual may seem anxious or withdrawn
  • Change in eating habits: the individual can have a diminished appetite, or may indulge in overeating
  • Low self-esteem: feelings of insecurity, shame, guilt and feeling overwhelmed
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