1. Health

Men and Suicide

More Men Take Their Own Lives


Updated January 04, 2007

In countries like the USA and the UK there has been a steady increase in the numbers of men who elect to end their own lives prematurely. On average in the USA one person (male and female) takes their own life every 18 minutes. Of those who attempt suicide the completion rate for men is four times higher than for women. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for all U.S. men according to National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Young men and older men are particularly vulnerable groups. The suicide rate peaks in men between the ages of 20-24, which if isolated from the general statistics on suicide, places suicide as the 3rd ranking cause of death. Older people suffer from the loss of loved one's and friends and can feel isolated, ignored, valueless, or overly dependent on others. In the USA, the leading method of suicide is by firearms whereas in the UK where guns are illegal, exhaust fumes, hanging and overdoses are most commonly employed.

Why Men Choose Suicide
Not every attempt at suicide results in completion, although unsuccessful first attempts are often followed by successful second attempts. We know that young men report various pressures, that they feel unable to adapt to or cope with

Risk Factors for Suicide
The most common risk factors are:

  • Using drugs and/or alcohol to help cope with emotions, relationships, pressure of work etc.

  • Social isolation, living alone.

  • Not being able to form or sustain meaningful relationships.

  • Divorce or relationship breakdowns.

  • A history of physical and sexual abuse.

  • Imprisonment.

  • Being bullied at school/college/work.

  • unemployment.

  • loss of a loved one through trauma or disease.

  • mental illness, particularly where this is related to depression. painful and/or debilitating illnesses or conditions.
  • Age and Suicide
    In older men suicide is most strongly associated with depression, physical pain and illness, living alone and feelings of hopelessness and guilt.

    Is Suicide Preventable
    Not all suicide attempts succeed and many people who set out with the clear intention of ending their own lives find that with good emotional and practical support they are able to adjust their circumstances to live a complete and fruitful life. The warning signs listed above do not inevitably lead to suicide attempts although where suicide is attempted and fails that person is much more likely to try again and be successful. 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 falls on others to offer support by listening, offering encouragement and sometimes even challenging the preconceptions that people hold about themselves such as their abilities and their worth to society.

    Getting Help for those at Suicide Risk
    Getting help for people expressing suicidal intent or showing the warning signs is so important. There are a number of avenues open to you to get help they need. Support and reassurance are important. Help is available from a number of different sources; family doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, voluntary organizations, community mental health center, local hospital or social agency.

    In Urgent Situations
    Contact your family doctor, or consult a mental health doctor urgently If someone is in what you believe to be in imminent danger call 911, do not leave them alone.

    Statistical Sources Include:
    National Center for Injury Prevention and ControlCDC website.

    Government Data National Vital Statistics Reports

    National Institute Mental Health

    ©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

    We comply with the HONcode standard
    for trustworthy health
    information: verify here.