Monday, June 10, 2013

Men's Health Concern #7: Suicide

Per the Mayo Clinic the 7th biggest threat to men’s health is suicide. This will be the hardest issue or concern to cover, but I hope in the end it may be the most important, profound, and inspiring information all week. Here is the thing with suicide - unlike the remaining 6 health concerns above it, suicide is the hardest to manage yourself. When looking at suicide as a concern, we need to look at it as men as a concern for our male family and friends. We need to watch over them and recognize the signs versus paying attention to our own signs as we should with the others.

When looking a men's health versus women's health there are interesting correlations between the concerns whether similarities or differences, but suicide has a very interesting comparison between men and women. Women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men's attempts are more 'extreme' as this article at medicine.net details, as well as an article about young men and suicide by Men's Health. By extreme they mean stronger, more violent attacks on the self including more, deeper cuts and taking of more pills. Whether this means they are more serious about it or simply that men can be more aggressive and violent - even to themselves - does not matter, though the second is definitely a known factor. What is detailed is that when a man attempts to commit suicide he is more likely to succeed - four times more likely - and so perhaps it is even more important to watch men and stop them before they try.


In this issue, as with all men's health issues, men are not great at self awareness and getting help. But of all the concerns this is the one that they would be least likely to get help due to the spiral of depression and reasons. Once in the spiral it is hard to get oneself out, and we need external help.  So again the most important thing about this concern is to learn we as men need to be aware of the men in our lives and watch for them. Some of the main factors for suicide in men include:
  • 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.
There has been a trend seen among younger men of increasing rates of suicide. In fact male suicide rates peak  between the ages of 20-24. In the past year one of the factors listed above has been prominent in the news: bullying. This is especially true in the peak age range and may be one of the factors of its increase. It has become such a concern that people of all levels, including President Obama, have gotten involved and spoken up about stopping the bullying trend.

In the end there are many reasons for both men and women to commit suicide, and we know that once in the spiral someone in it will not help themselves, so we need to help others out. For men, confronting each other - especially on things that may be emotional or even embarrassing - is never easy. We may be worried that we will harm the friendship by asking about personal things. But would you rather harm or even lose the friendship itself - which can be repaired over time - or risk harm or loss of the friend's very life?

Please learn the factors, watch for them in your family and friends, and speak up and get involved if you even suspect they are heading down that path. As we have learned with men if they follow the path they are more likely to reach its end than women, and end we don't want them to reach.