On average, men are three times more likely to take their lives
Around the world, suicide rates among men are growing alarmingly. Despite the fact women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and more frequently attempt to take their own lives, the number of deaths through suicide among men remains depressingly high.
Globally, suicide rates in men are considerably higher than in women
Despite mental health issues being 20%-40% more likely among women, around three-quarters of all reported suicides occur with males. Evidence suggests that approximately 7% of females have attempted suicide at some point in their lives compared to a far lower rate of 4% in men. Nonetheless, suicide remains the single biggest killer of men under 45.
Moreover, recent research by the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the higher figures for male suicide remain remarkably consistent globally. In the UK, 15.5 deaths per 100,000 among males are through suicide, compared to 4.9 in women. In Australia, men are reported as being 3.5 times more likely of dying through suicide than women; in Russia, the US and Argentina, the figure is closer four times more likely.
The question is, why?
The different ways the sexes approach suicide
Mortality statistics prove that males tend to be more determined in the approach they take to suicide. Where women commonly opt for non-violent methods to take their own lives (for example, poisoning through overdosing), men are far more likely to choose more immediate means which have less likelihood of being discovered or interrupted, e.g. hanging.
These stats for violent methods of death are also reflected worldwide. In the US, over half of all suicides involve firearms; in the UK, 58% of suicidal deaths are through strangulation, hanging or suffocation.
Conversely, in both countries, the primary cause of suicide among women is poisoning or overdosing (figures suggest around 43% in the UK and 37.4% in the US). Comparably, poisoning accounts for approximately 20% of deaths in males.
Males have a greater tendency towards impulsivity
It’s believed another reason more males die from suicide than females are men tend to be more impulsive than women, making them more prone to spontaneous suicidal thoughts. It’s also been found that many male deaths are linked to alcohol abuse – more males than females are found to have drunk alcohol in the hours before death. Furthermore, studies conducted in self-harm psychiatric wards have found that more men than women talk of determined suicidal intent.
Unfortunately, it seems men are just ‘better’ at taking their own lives.
Men have higher risk factors
Men are under more pressure today than ever. With ever-changing gender roles and the rise in sexual equality, many men report difficulty understanding what it means to be a man.
Men are also more likely to bottle-up problems. Its widely accepted women are far better at discussing their issues – among friends or with a professional. In contrast, when faced with problems, many men sink into isolation and pull back from society.
The reasons for the different approaches to dealing with problems between the sexes are numerous. However, from a young age, men are mostly discouraged from sharing their feelings or emotions – almost seeing sensitive behavior as a sign of weakness. Also, studies have found that mothers tend to be far more vocal with daughters than sons – actively encouraging communication and the sharing of emotions.
Men are also far less likely to admit when they have a problem and seek help. This stoic approach to life often results in men trying to deal with issues on their own rather than seeking the help of friends or psychiatrists. In a UK study, primary mental health consultations among men were found to be 32% lower than in women.
While there are no easy answers to male suicide, one thing is beyond question – the coping mechanisms developed by women make them far less likely to take their own lives. Perhaps by emulating women’s stronger emotional and communicative skills, men might hopefully begin to slow the distressing trend for death through suicide.