Canadian study finds boys and young men are more likely to die than girls and young women

Published On January 21, 2020 | By Madeline Jafarnejad | News
Study finds that the leading cause of death in adolescent men is accidental or intentional poisoning. (UNSPLASH/@dmitrybayer)
Madeline Jafarnejad

A Canadian study published earlier this month by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows boys and young men have a greater chance of dying than girls and young women.

The study examined 3.1 million children born in Ontario between 1990 and 2016 and looked at cause of death for those who died between the ages of one and 24.

The research showed that the males studied were more likely than women to die starting at the age of 14 and they are also three times more likely than women to die by the age of 24.

According to the lead author Dr. Joel Ray, a clinician-scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, over 40 per cent of the deaths in males were caused by accidental poisoning, 16 per cent were caused by intentional self harm and other leading causes include motor vehicle accidents.

Ray said when women turn about 15, part of the prefrontal cortex of the brain starts to develop the ability to decide not to do certain things that would be considered risky.

“It seems that some boys aren’t learning some of those restrictions that keep them from going off the edge into a risky environment whether it’s experimenting with drugs or more radical behaviour in other areas,” he said.

He showed a great concern for adolescents facing mental health issues and said he hopes that anyone who reads about the study takes measures to prevent these untimely deaths from happening.

“Self harm is a big player mediated a lot by mental illness and is where interventions need to focus,” Ray said.

“The opioids epidemic needs to be tackled, people want to take guns off the streets but we really must take opioids off the streets,” he said. “That’s easier said than done but separately tackling mental illness among youth is also a critical concept,” Ray said.

Ray acknowledged that people might be fearful of premature death after discovering the study, but said he simply encourages them to stay away from “risk taking adventures like opioids” and said they should get the help they need when “dark thoughts” begin to occur.

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