Males and Suicide: A Hidden Statistic
To read the previous blog on suicide, please click here.
The Hidden Statistic
What may surprise many of us is the gender gap that exists among suicide rates. While females are on average, four times more likely to attempt suicide, men die by suicide 3.54 times more often than women. Why are men so much more at risk for death by suicide?
Males and Suicide
Males are at increased risk for suicide for several reasons. The most accepted reason--males tend to use more lethal and violent means when attempting death by suicide, thus increasing the likelihood of death.
However, this issue goes beyond the means in which a person dies by suicide. Let’s look at things from a societal level.
In our society, men and women are generally held to different expectations and norms in which they should behave. Think about the stereotypical little girl wearing pink and playing with dolls versus the little boy in blue playing with trucks and dinosaurs. What occurs in these situations are differences in how males and females are socialized and taught to act from a young age.
The Male Stereotype
As they grow up, males are often taught by society that they have to be strong, stoic, and never show emotions. Many of us have heard people say things like: “Be a man about it,” “Don’t be a crybaby,” and “Man up.” What these messages send to us are that men cannot show emotion and if they do, they are weak and less of a man. Continue to send these messages, and people begin to believe that this is the way to live. As a result, if a man who believes these messages begins to struggle, he is less likely to talk to anyone, less likely to reach out for help, and more likely to bottle in his feelings and eventually die by suicide.
What Can We Do?
The first step we can take for tackling the hidden statistic of suicide among males is to shed light on it. A problem cannot be solved unless people know it exists.
After that? Be there to support others. Allowing the men in your life a space to talk openly about their feelings can help them to feel more comfortable opening up and confiding in another person. Not everyone will want to talk, but providing someone with the opportunity to can make a huge difference.