Poverty, Agency and Suicide: Men and Women


  • Renier Steyn University of South Africa, South Africa




poverty, agency, suicide, suicide ideation, mental health, sex


Assumptions linking poverty with sex, associating poverty with agency, as well as connecting agency with suicide, are widespread. Women are often seen as being affected more by poverty than are men. Men are frequently considered to possess more agency than are women, and men are also more prone to suicide than are women. The research aims to assess if poverty, agency, and suicide differences occur across sexual lines, if a poverty-agency-suicide ideation relationship is supported by data, and how this relationship is influenced by sex. A cross-sectional survey design was used, and interviews were conducted with 3,531 participants. Analyses of variance were performed to calculate whether differences in poverty, agency and suicide ideation exist across sexual lines. Correlation analysis was implemented to test for the poverty-agency-suicide ideation relationship, and regression analyses were used to test the moderating effects of sex on the poverty-agency-suicide ideation relationships. Men and women did not differ significantly in terms of levels of poverty, agency, or suicide ideation. Poverty did relate to agency (a negligible effect), but agency did not influence suicide ideation. Poverty had a significant but small effect on suicide ideation. Sex moderated did not moderate the poverty-agency-suicide ideation relationship. The data do not support established stereotypes and empirical findings regarding sex differences across the poverty, agency, and suicide ideation spectrums. The data also do not support the poverty-agency-suicide ideation relationship, nor does sex influence this relationship. Healthcare professionals should be aware that (well-established) stereotypes do not necessarily materialise in all populations.


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How to Cite

Steyn, R. (2023) “Poverty, Agency and Suicide: Men and Women ”, African Journal of Inter/Multidisciplinary Studies, 5(1), pp. 1–11. doi: 10.51415/ajims.v5i1.1072.