Human rights update: The suicide rate among middle-aged Americans has been increasing for about 15 years, most notably since the economic downturn of 2008, and recent research has pointed to a link. Middle-aged men now have the highest suicide rate of any group. It’s over three times the rate of women. More die of suicide than in car accidents. Suicide is the number one killer of men under 50.
The silent epidemic:
The silence surrounding suicide among men is also striking and warrants comment. First, there appears to be an overall lack of public awareness regarding the high rates of suicide among men, especially relative to other more highly publicized threats to men’s health, such as HIV/AIDS, that account for far fewer premature deaths among males each year (e.g., in 2005 45 male deaths were attributed to AIDS in Canada in contrast to 2857 male deaths from suicide).[4,5]
Second, while accumulating empirical evidence confirms that men in Western nations consistently die by suicide at higher rates than women[6,7] (with the pattern reversed for nonfatal suicidal behaviors), surprisingly few explanatory frameworks have been developed to account for this persistent pattern.
Third, few preventive efforts or policies specifically targeting male suicide have been developed or evaluated, which further contributes to its lack of visibility as a major public health problem. When gender is addressed it is often treated as a static demographic variable as opposed to a culturally mediated social construction that intersects with other diversity markers such as race, sexual orientation, and age in highly complex ways.[8,9]
Finally, given men’s general reluctance to seek help for suicide-related concerns, and the stigma associated with mental health problems in general, it is no surprise that suicide among men is largely invisible.
We sent the 101st Airborne Division to fight a couple hundred cases of ebola. Just sayin’.
UPDATE: Reflecting on a Father’s suicide.