man depressed struggling with suicide

Why Are So Many Men Dying by Suicide?

Written By: The Meadows Web Team

By Anna McKenzie

According to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men make up 49% of the US population, but they account for 80% of all suicides. What is causing this correlation between men and suicide? And what can be done to help prevent these deaths?

Men make up 49% of the US population, but they account for 80% of all suicides.

Suicide Rates in America

Here are the facts about suicide in America, including suicide rates for men, based on the CDC’s findings:

  • In 2020, nearly 50,000 people in the US committed suicide. 
  • For every person who attempted suicide, 11 more seriously thought about it.
  • The populations with the highest rates of suicide were American Indian, Alaska Natives, and non-Hispanic whites.
  • The age group with the highest rate of suicide is the 85+ community, followed equally by the 25-34 and 75-84 age groups. 
  • The rate of suicide among men was four times higher than that of women.
  • For every 100,000 men, 22 committed suicide in 2020, compared to just 5.5 per 100,000 women.

When considering male versus female suicide rates, it’s clear that men make up the lion’s share. Incidentally, women are twice as likely to attempt suicide than men are, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), but men tend to choose more lethal options for their attempts.

Why Are Men’s Suicide Rates Higher?

The biggest question being asked is, Why are men’s suicide rates higher than those of women? A number of factors may be contributing to this trend, including the following:

  • Social changes
  • Economic instability
  • Lack of education
  • Lack of community
  • Changes in cultural norms
  • Toxic masculinity

In 2020, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, two Princeton economists, coined the term “deaths of despair” to identify rising rates of death from suicide, drug overdoses, and alcoholic liver disease. Case and Deaton argued that deaths of despair are specifically tied to economic instability. STAT reported their findings, quoting an excerpt from Case and Deaton’s Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism:

“Jobs are not just the source of money; they are the basis for the rituals, customs, and routines of working-class life. Destroy work and, in the end, working-class life cannot survive. It is the loss of meaning, of dignity, of pride, and of self-respect that comes with the loss of marriage and of community that brings on despair.”

Job loss and lack of purchasing power has significantly affected the working class in America, especially working-class men without a college degree. According to CBS News, one in nine American men are no longer in the labor market. That number was one in 50 in the 1950s. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that, over the course of 40 years, men without college degrees saw a 17% decrease in their earnings, compared to a 20% increase in wages for men with degrees.

man depressed

In American culture, men were once seen as the primary breadwinner for the family. The changes in job opportunities, wages, and education have affected men more than just vocationally. They are now dealing with a lack of connection, community, and status related to work capabilities and earning power. Changes in social norms have upended not only their cultural role, but their masculine identity.

Both toxic masculinity and fluid views on gender identity can serve as a barrier to men who are unsure how to express their feelings of doubt, despair, or depression without losing their sense of self. They want to be seen as men, but in a rapidly-changing world, what does it mean to be a man anymore? The New York TimesConor Friedersdorf explored this subject and resolved, “The culture is still searching for a modern masculine ideal.”

Regaining a Strong Male Sense of Self

The facts about men and suicide clearly reveal that men are in crisis. Richard Reeves, author Of Boys and Men, shared on CNN that publicly advocating for things like jobs for men is uncomfortable for today’s politicians. He says that the cultural perception is that empowering men would be at the exclusion or expense of women, but this is not the case.

Trauma, idleness, poverty, and access to drugs, alcohol, and firearms are adding up to an overwhelming number of preventable suicides in men.

Men need to be empowered and encouraged in a healthy identity. They play a vital and irreplaceable role in the home, in the workplace, and in society. But many men have encountered rejection, a lack of opportunities, unrest, and emotional distress that they don’t know how to express safely. Trauma, idleness, poverty, and access to drugs, alcohol, and firearms are adding up to an overwhelming number of preventable suicides in men.

While economic circumstances and culture are ever-changing, men can still regain a strong sense of self and heal from substance use, sexual issues, mental health disorders, and trauma.

Where Men Can Find Healing

At Gentle Path at The Meadows, we provide a safe haven for men to recover from the issues that are disrupting their lives. We offer research-backed treatment and guidance for those who are dealing with sexual addiction, substance use, and co-occurring mental health conditions. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you regain your sense of self and thrive in life. 

February 28th, 2023

Categories: mental health mental health treatment

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