Suicide Among Men
In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of men who end their own lives prematurely through suicide. Research shows that while women tend to experience more suicidal thinking, men are far more likely to die by suicide.
Not every attempt at suicide results in completion, although first attempts are often followed by fatal second attempts.
The most common risk factors for suicide are:
- Being bullied at school, college, or work
- Divorce or relationship breakdowns
- History of physical and sexual abuse
- Loss of a loved one through trauma or disease
- Mental illness, particularly where this is related to depression and painful or debilitating illnesses or conditions
- Not being able to form or sustain meaningful relationships
- Social isolation or living alone
- Using drugs and/or alcohol to help cope with emotions, relationships, the pressure of work, or other issues
In addition to the above risk factors, there are some other theories as to why men are at a greater risk of death by suicide.
- Traditional male gender roles discourage emotional expression. Men are told they need to be tough and that they should not need to ask for help. Such rigid gender norms may make it difficult for men to reach out and ask for support when they need it.
- Depression may be underdiagnosed in men. Men often do not disclose feelings of depression to their doctors. When they do, it is often described in terms of having problems at work or in relationships. Men also tend to describe their feelings as “stress” rather than sadness or hopelessness.
- Men are less likely to seek help for emotional problems. Research suggests that depression is diagnosed less frequently in men because of the tendency to deny illness, self-monitor symptoms, and self-treat.
- Men may be more likely to self-treat symptoms of depression with alcohol and other substances.
Emotional and practical support is important for helping people to adjust their circumstances to restore well-being. The warning signs listed above do not inevitably lead to suicide attempts. However, people who feel suicidal often report a certain kind of tunnel vision of being unable to see the broader picture and thinking only in terms of black and white.
In such circumstances, that individual may not be motivated to seek out help for themselves, and it often falls on others to offer support by listening, offering encouragement. Sometimes even challenging the preconceptions that people hold about themselves such as their abilities and worth to society.