“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” - Phil Donahue. As a complex, tragic public health issue, suicide occurs in men significantly more often than in women. Suicide is simply defined as the act of intentionally ending one’s own life, but the factors that play into a person making that decision are anything but simple. The most obvious and severe effect of suicide is the loss of a valuable, meaningful human life. According to Harvard School of Public Health (n.d.), suicide affects parents, children, siblings, friends, lovers and spouses; the loss for society is psychological, spiritual, and financial. People who lose a loved one to suicide often experience devastating effects and deal with a complex grief. These “suicide survivors” typically feel a range of emotions from sadness, blame, and guilt to extreme anger and confusion. “Suicide among males is four times higher than among females and represents 79% of all U.S. suicides” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2012). This gender paradox is one of the most compelling components regarding who is most at risk to attempt suicide. Why is it that men commit suicide more often than women? More than four times as many men as women die by suicide because depressed men are less likely to seek out help, men typically use more violent, lethal methods and cannot be resuscitated, and men carry the pressure of employment, providing for and protecting a family, and maintaining relationships.
In the past decade, suicide rates have been on the incline; especially among men. According to the New York Times (2013), “From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent… The suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000”. In 2010, 38,364 suicides were reported, with 78.9% being men (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, n.d.).
In many societies, men are looked down upon for shows emotion. Men throughout the world carry the burden of concealing their weaknesses from those around them for fear of being looked down upon and losing their masculinity. If a man is feeling depressed, he has a tendency to hold it inside, rather than seek help. Women on the other hand, are more likely to ask for help if they feel depressed because women are more emotional and social by nature. This view of the emotional roles between men and women is called gender-role socialization. The American Association of Suicidology (n.d.), defines this concept,
Traditionally, men are viewed as strong, independent, and emotionally controlled, while women are seen as weak, nurturant, and emotionally expressive. Help-seeking implies, perhaps even requires, a sense of vulnerability, in that the person seeking help is dependent on the person from whom help is sought. Thus, help-seeking is antithetical to the masculine gender role, and seeking help may be avoided as a...