Death by suicide has always been an issue of concern all around the world. Following the global data given by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the year 2016, there were 793,000 suicide deaths worldwide, which certainly is a big number and surprisingly most of them were men. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of men who elect to end their own lives through suicide. WHO’s data show that nearly 40% of countries have more than 15 suicide deaths per 100,000 men compared to 1.5% of countries that have more than 15 suicide deaths per 100,000 women. It’s important to focus on mental health of men.
Studies from all around the globe suggested men to be a high-risk group for suicidal deaths. It’s important to normalise men needing emotional support and men prioritising their mental health. Here’s a list of figures that support the fact that men need mental help now more than ever-
- On average 1 in 8 men experience depression and 1 in 5 men experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.
- Men have a suicide rate 3 times higher than women.
- Men have higher rates of impulse-control disorders and substance abuse disorders than women.
- Almost 10% of men have attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder compared with 6.4% of women.
- Nearly 20% of men suffer from alcohol abuse, compared with 7.5% of women.
- 11.6% of men are affected by drug abuse, compared with 4.8% of women.
This data that you’ve been reading till now might have triggered some news about suicide that you’ve come across very recently. And now the question arises! Ever since ages, it has been a very much known fact that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and suicidal tendencies. But why is the male suicidal rate still several times higher than females’? Let’s quickly dive into some answers to our question. The most commonly encountered risk factor is communication. It has always been a known fact that women are willing to share their problems and men tend to bottle them up. It all starts in childhood. Boys are often advised not to cry and from a very young age, boys are conditioned to not express their emotions. Expressing an emotion is considered to be a weakness. This in turn forces men to mask their stress and deal with the trauma through addictions, harmful behaviors, and sometimes suicide, instead of seeking help and prioritising their mental health.
Dangerously, rather than seeking help for their mental health through established channels, some men attempt to “Self-medicate” through substance use and alcohol. All these just give temporary relief while deteriorating one’s physical and mental health. Alcoholism is a known risk factor for suicide. It just deepens depression, leaving you in a never-ending loop at times.
Other major risk factors include unemployment and issues with relationships along with a sense of isolation. Having to worry more about finances or trying to find a job can exacerbate mental health issues for anyone. Also, some men are very much into their careers that they never really care about their personal relations. And most of them end up at the top of the pyramid all alone.
Having known the major reasons for the upward trend in the male suicide rate, it is very much important to know the possible solutions to bring the figures down. First and foremost a conversation can solve the communication risk factor. “You as a man, but first and foremost as a human being, deserve to be supported and loved by as many people as you possibly can…..Not opening up to others is a feature of toxic masculinity because it encourages you to not acknowledge difficult, painful parts of your narrative” writes Mahananda Bohidar in her article, Masculinity is a burden you do not need. A very natural approach is the “shoulder-to-shoulder principle” that encourages men to talk while keeping them occupied, like watching a sport or going for a bike ride. Communication is all about emphasizing that it’s okay for men to talk about how they’re feeling and for that to be acknowledged as a sign of strength.
Suicidal thoughts are a symptom, just like any other. They can be treated and cured. Consulting a mental health professional can help a person who is suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies. Mental health professionals are trained to help people understand their feelings and improve mental wellness. Psychotherapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help a person to learn various coping skills.
A number of programs are also available for men. Man Therapy, DUDES Clubs, HeadsUp Guys, Men’s sheds are some of the organizations and websites that help men deal with suicidal tendencies and emotional distress. People suffering from trauma and emotional pain can reach out to these organizations for help. Partners, family members, and coworkers can be alert to the warning signs of suicide like irritation, loss of appetite, lack of sleep, hopelessness, etc and help their loved ones. If you wish to support people who are suffering you can join certain campaigns that help men struggling with thoughts of suicide. BuddyUp is one such campaign for men by men that encourages them to have real conversations with their buddies.
To conclude, suicides are preventable. Much can be done to prevent suicide at individual, community, and national levels.
Please do reach out. You’re not alone. Don’t let masculinity get in the way of getting help!
Here’s a list of Suicide hotline numbers and support groups one can reach out to-
- Teen line
A teen crisis hotline for ages 12-19.
Hotline: (310) 855 4673
Text TEEN to 839863.
- Boys Town National Hotline
Helpline for a variety of crisis issues.
Call: 1 (800)448-3000 -Available 24/7
Email & Online Chat available.
- Child Help
National Child Abuse Hotline
Call: (800) 422-4453, available 24/7 US and Canada.
- National Poison Control Line
Call: 800-222-1222 available 24/7
- Rehab and Drug Treatment Centers
Call: (877) 882 9275 or (855) 378 4734, available 24/7
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
Support for survivors of sexual violence
Call: (800) 656 4673 and Online chat available 24/7
- The Trevor Project
Support for LGBTQIA community
Call: 877-330-6366 (available in US and Canada)
- National Safe Place
Youth outreach and prevention program for support
Text SAFE and your current location to 69866, available 24/7
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call: 1 800 273 8255 (available 24/7)
Call: (877) 870 4673 (available 24/7)
- Veterans Crisis Line
Call: 1 800 273 8255 and press 1 (available 24/7)
Call: 0800 1111 (available 24/7)
Call: 116 123
Call: 91-9820466726 (available 24/7)
Call: 91 44 24640050 (available 24/7)
Call: 91 44 24640060
- Crisis Service Canada
Call: 1 833 456 4566 (available 24/7)
Call: 0800 111 0 111
- Suicide Ecoute
Call: 01 45 39 40 00 (available 24/7)
- Sos Amitie
Call: 09 72 39 40 50 (available 24/7)
Call: 131114 (available 24/7)
- Beyond Blue
Call: 1300 22 4636 (available 24/7)
- Mental Health Center – Zhejiang University
Psychological assistance. Call: 0571 8502 9595
About the Author:
Hi, I’m Cherish Kandru. I’m a medical student and I love to write. I like to spread awareness on mental health and how important it is to be mentally healthy to live every moment. I do write poems on the same.