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Male Suicide Rates - Drowning in Depression

Man Facts

The Shocking Truth About Male Suicide Rates: Facts, Questions, Answers

At around three times higher than women, male suicide rates are too alarming to be ignored any further.

A silent global epidemic is killing men by the thousands. It’s not heart disease, nor is it cancer. It’s suicide.

No matter where you are in the world, men die by suicide at a far higher rate than women or any other demographic. Yet, despite this shocking truth, mainstream meadia continues to put conversations about men’s mental health and male suicide rates on the backbruner.

Too Manly wants to change that. This edition of Man Facts not only brings to light the shocking suicide facts and statistics, but it also looks at why men are at a higher risk of sucide, the most common methods of suicide, the various suicide risk and protective factors, and warning signs of suicide to look out for.

Our goal is to bring more awareness to this quiet killer, and in particular male suicide rates, in order to encourage more men to seek help instead of killing themselves.

Suicide Defned: What Counts As Suicide?

In most countries, suicide is defined as intentionally causing one’s own death.

In the U.S. and possibly in other countries, this includes acts that were originally intended to cause injury but resulted in death, as well as deaths associated with risk-taking behavior without clear intent to inflict fatal injury but associated with high risk for death (e.g., Russian roulette’.

Deaths caused by substance abuse without the intent of dying and deaths attributed to erotic fetishes (e.g. autoerotic asphyxiation) are not considered suicide.

Suicide Facts And Figures

Male Suicide Rates - Jumping off building

Male suicide rates are higher than women’s largely because men are more effective at killing themselves.

We used the most recent data available from the World Health Organization, Global Burden of Disease, the Centers for Disease Control, and other international health institutes to compile the following list of suicide facts.

How many people die from suicide every year?

According to independent studies carried out by the World Healthy Organization (WHO) and the Global Burden of Disease, approximately 800,000 people die due to suicide every year globally, which translates to one person every 40 seconds.

Suicide accounted for 1.4% of global deaths in 2017. However, this rate reaches as high as 5% in some countries.

In the United States, there were were 47,173 recorded suicides in 2017 (up from 42,773 in 2014), while in Canada, it is around 4,000 deaths per year.

Nearly twice as many people die from suicide than from homicide.

What gender commits the most suicide?

The WHO findings reveal that twice as many men than women die by suicide. In 2017, global male suicide rates stood at 13.9 per 100,000 people on average, compared to 6.3 deaths per 100,000 for women.

Men have disproportionately higher rates of suicde in nearly every country, but the rate can vary greatly.

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In Eastern Europe, for example, it’s 6 to 7 times higher, while across South and East Asia, it’s nearly 0 to 1.6 higher.

In most other countries around the world, the rate is 2 to 4 times higher.

Interestingly, women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men are far more likely to carry it out.

How many people kill themselves a day?

By simply taking the number of seconds in a day (86,400), and then dividing by 40 seconds, we can deduce that approximately ‭2,160‬ people kill themselves every day around the world.

Let that sink in…

Which country has the most suicidal deaths?

79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries. Here are the rates per 100,000 people for the top five countries with the highest suicide rates in 2018.

  1. Lithuania: 31.9 overall / 58.1 men / 9.5 women
  2. Russia: 31 overall / 55.9 men / 9.4 women
  3. Guyana: 29.2 overall / 43.7 men / 14.4 women
  4. South Korea: 26.9 overall / 38.4 men / 15.4 women
  5. Belarus: 26.2 overall / 46.9 men / 8.2 women

As a continent, Europe has the highest suicide rates in the world. In Russia, for instance, a staggering 45,178 people commited suicide in 2018 (around 124 per day), which is higher than the number of suicides in the United States despite the country having less than half the population.

What age group is most suicidal?

Globally, suicide is most prevalent in people aged 70 years and older, followed by those in the 50-69 age group.

Even though they consistently have lower rates than middle-aged and older adults, young people are also prone to suicide. Suicide is in fact the second leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds.

As far as the United States is concerned, it’s often said that doctors and dentists have a high suicide rate. While that may be true, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the occupational group with the highest male suicide rate is actually construction and extraction.

With 52.1 deaths by suicide per 100,000 professionals, a rate that is over 200% higher than the average profession, more male construction workers take their lives in the U.S. than any other occupational group.

Unsurprisingly, male suicide rates were higher than every other demographic in all professions the study looked at.

What is the most suicidal month / season?

The seaons have an effect on suicide rates, but the results are probably not what you expected.

Conventional wisdom would have you believe that suicide rates peak during winter months, when decreased sunlight is presumed to result in an uptick in distemper and a higher incidence of depression, but that’s not the case.

Studies show that the rate of suicide is actually highest in May and lowest in February for both male and females.

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In other words, suicide rates tend to be higher during the spring and summer months than in the winter months.

Why? One of the most commonly cited theories has to do with the increase in manic behavior in the springtime. Some researchers believe the mood activation triggered by warmer weather brings about the development of more self-destructive behavior.

Studies also suggest that inflammation from various sources, including allergic reactions induced by springtime, can cause or worsen depression, therefore increasing the risk of suicide.

Where is the most suicidal place?

Most suicides are committed at home or near the home. However, a lot of them are carried out in some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Here is a list of the top 10 most popular suicide spots:

  1. Aokigahara forest, Japan: Up to 105 suicides a year.
  2. Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, China: More than 2,000 suicides from 1968 to 2006.
  3. The Golden Gate Bridge, United States: More than 1,600 known suicides, though the number might be higher when considering the victims whose bodies were never found.
  4. Niagara Falls, Canada — 2,780 known suicides between 1856 and 1995, and there are 20 to 25 per year.
  5. The Gap, Australia: An estimated 50 suicides a year.
  6. Prince Edward Viaduct, Canada: There were 492 suicides before the Luminous Veil, a barrier of 9,000 steel rods, was constructed in 2003.
  7. London Underground, England: Approximately 50 suicides a year.
  8. Paris Métro, France: Around 20 to 40 deaths per year.
  9. Beachy Head, England: Approximately 20 suicides annually.
  10. Forth Road Bridge, Scotland: More than 20 suicides a year.

Jumping from high places, especially bridges, is a popular way for people to take their lives, but it is by no means the most common.

What Are The Most Common Methods Of Suicide?

Male Suicide Rates - Gun to head

Suicide by gun is often depicted as the most common method of suicide, but that’s not the case in most parts of the world.

The most commonly used method of suicide varies between countries and is largely determined by the availability of effective means. Even so, the top three are hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms.

Suicide By Hanging

Normally chosen when no other major method is available, hanging is the most common suicide method in most countries regardless of income status. It accounts for approximately 53 percent of male suicide rates and 39 percent of the female suicides.

WHO estimates that hanging accounts for 50% of the suicides in high-income countries, with gun-happy U.S. being a major exception (more on that later).

It is the most commonly used method in England and Wales — especially among males aged 15 to 44 — comprising almost half of the suicides in that group.

Pesticide Poisoning

Deliberate poisoning from pesticides is a very popular methodsof suicide, with studies suggesting that as much as 30% of suicides globally are the result of pesticide poisoning. It is most prevalent in low-to-middle income countries.

A 2019 research by David Gunnell and his co-authors estimated that 14 to 15 million people lost their lives to self-poisoning from 1960 to 2018, a figure that is likely understated considering the poor records of rural deaths and the illegality of suicide in some countries.

Firearms

Accounting for approximately 8% of global suicide deaths, the use of firearms is one of the most common methods of suicide, more so in some countries than others.

The U.S. is percular in that firearms accounts for around 50% of all suicide deaths. At over 6 deaths per 100,000, it’s nearly 30 times higher than in the UK and over ten times greater than many other countries across Europe.

The Global Burden of Disease estimates that over 24,000 died from firearm suicide in the United States in 2017, far greater than the 14,452 homicides by firearm.

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Causes Of Suicide: 8 Risk Factors

Depressed Man, suicidal thoughts

Depression and other severe mental disorders can be life threatening, possibly leading to suicide.

There are many risk factors associated with suicidal tendencies, but the most common causes of suicide are mental disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, socio-economic problems, divorce laws, gun prevalence, and suicide contagion.

It is important to note that risk factors are not warning signs. They indicate that someone is at heightened risk for suicide, but not if they are an immediate risk.

1. Mental Health

Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are significant suicide risk factors for both genders.

Studies have shown that anywhere from 46% to 98% of those who have committed suicide had a diagnosable mental disorder.

2. Alcohol And Drug Abuse

The abuse of alcohol or drugs is second to depression as the most prominent risk factor for suicidal behaviour, with academic studies in several countries finding a strong connection between alcohol consumption and male suicide rates.

Alcohol and many drugs can cause suicidal thoughts through loss of inhibition, impulsivity and impaired judgement.

3. Unemployment, Divorce

Both female and male suicide rates (but especially the latter) and the proportion of alcohol-involved suicides rose during the 2008–2009 recession, lending credence to findings that a rise in unemployment is often accompanied by an increase in suicides.

Divorce is another tipping point toward sucide for a lot of men around the world. In North America, divorced men were nine times more likely to commit suicide than divorced women, according to a study conducted by Dr. Augustine Kposowa of the University of California.

Loneliness, the feeling of shame, loss of identity, separation from children, financial pressures, gender stereotypes, and even lack of social support are major reasons why divorced men have a higher rate.

4. Prevalence Of Lethal Means

The availability of highly lethal and commonly used suicide methods has been associated with an increase in suicide rates.

In the U.S., for instance, where there is a high prevalence of firearms in households, firearms were used in 46% of all suicides. In high-income countries with a much lower prevalence, the rate is only 4.5%.

5. Suicide Contagion

Like viral infections, suicide is contagious. Knowing or hearing of someone who died by suicide, particularly a family member, puts a person at a higher risk of committing suicide.

Suicide contagion is so real that findings from multiple studies indicate an increase in suicides following media reports of suicide. The scientific community calls this phenomenon ‘copycat’ behaviour.

6. Social Isolation

Social isolation is one of the main risk factors associated with suicidal behavior.

There is a wealth of evidence showing hat individuals who experience isolation are more vulnerable to suicide than those who have strong social ties with others.

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7. Chronic Disease And Disability

Increased suicidal ideation has been found in populations suffering from chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and myalgic encephalomyelitis.

Lack of quality medical care; physical or emotional abandonment by friends, family and healthcare practitioners; financial pressures; the loss of hope for recovery; and the feeling of being a burden can all contribute to the ideation of suicide.

8. Access To Mental Health Services

Studies have found a strong relationship between mental health care access and suicide. A lack of access to mental health care results in greater rates of suicide, and vice versa.

Individuals who are reluctant to seek help are at an even higher risk.

10 Warning Signs Of Suicide

Suicidal Man Drinking by Street

Increased use of alcohol, drugs or other harmful substances is a major warning sign of suicide.

People who kill themselves usually exhibit one or more warning signs before the carry out the act, either through what they say or how they behave. These warning signs indicate an immediate risk of suicide.

Are you concerned that you or someone you know is at risk of taking his or her own life? Here are ten warning signs of suicide to look out for.

1. Focuses on death

An obsession with the topic of death, even going as far as to talk openly about wanting to die or to commit suicide; research ways to make it happen; and buying a gun, knife, poison, or pills.

2. Makes plans

Unexpectedly updating a will, giving away prized possessions, and saying goodbye to others. Some may write a suicide note.

3. Becomes withdrawn

Pushing family and friends away, withdrawing from activities and social events, and becoming isolated.

4. Shows despair

Talking openly about unbearable pain, feeling hopeless or trapped, and feeling like a burden to others or that life has no purpose.

5. Shows swings in mood or sleep

May be depressed, anxious, sad, or angry, as well as easily irritable, moody, or aggressive, one instant and then suddenly calm in another. May sleep a lot more or a lot less than usual.

Such drastic change in mood and sleep can be an indication that a decision has been made to go through with the suicide.

6. Changes in appearance

Might suddenly become less concerned about his personal appearance, once again indicating that he has made a decision to take his life.

7. Increased use of alcohol, drugs

Using a lot of drugs and alcohol may be an attempt to dull the pain or inflict self harm. Moreover, it increases the chance of suicide by removing any inhibitions.

8. Acts recklessly

May take dangerous chances, like driving drunk or having risky sex, indicating that he no longer values his life.

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9. Threatens suicide

Threatening suicide in the spur of the moment out of anger, frustration or desperation at something that might have happened.

10. Recent Life Crisis

A major life crisis might be a tipping point. Crises include the death of a loved one or pet, divorce or break-up of a relationship, diagnosis of a major illness, loss of a job, or serious financial problems.

Suicide Protective Factors

Protective factors are characteristics that buffers a person from suicidal thoughts and behavior. Although protective factors have not been as extensively studied as risk factors, identifying and understanding them are just as important.

Effective Mental Health Care

The availability of effective care fpr individuals at risk for suicide plays a key tole in suicide prevention. This includes establishing care pathways to ensure that they receive follow-up and referral services in a timely manner, especially during high-risk periods.

Connectedness

Strong, positive relationships with parents / guardians, friends and community. Feeling secure and supported, and feeling like you belong to something bigger than themselves.

Coping Abilities

Being able to see the bright side of things can greatly alleviate suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This includes realizing that there are people who need you, places where you can make a difference, and new experiences that make life worth living.

Peer Support Programs

Peer support programs at school, workplace or elsewhere can reduce the emotional distress experienced by people at risk of suicide and help them develop skills needed to take charge of their lives.

Male Suicide Rates: The Challenge Of Being a Man

Stressed Depressed Man

To address the issue of high male suicide rates, men need to be courageous enough to ask for help when they need it.

In his book, Lonely at the Top, Thomas Joiner describes a major aspect of masculinity that has long undermined the well-being of the average man.

The enduring cultural programming that directs men to be tough, brave, strong, self-reliant, and show no emotions in their personal and professional lives often causes them to neglect their health and discard friendships and support systems.

Strong adherence to these masculine ideals essentially strips them of what the prevention field calls “protective factors.”

After years of striving for success and reaching goals, a man may find himself suddenly exposed when the stresses of life become overwhelming and when there are no longer professional pursuits to distract him.

Unlike women, who tend to seek preventative care and retain stronger relationships throughout their lives, men may find themselves with no close connections with anyone later in life, explaining why the suicide rate is highest in the 44 and over age bracket.

Men are also less likely to be honest about or seek help for emotional problems, and more likely to self-treat anxiety and depression with alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances.

To rub salt in the wound, male psychological and personal problems are often ignored minimized by social institutions.

Getting Help: Suicide Support Programs

Male suicide rates are unacceptably high, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Getting help for yourself or someone your suspect is suicidal is literally a matter of life and death and can go a long way to curb the global suicide epidemic.

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You can find help from various sources, including family doctors, therapists, community mental health centers, and local hospitals. If it’s you who is at risk, talking to a trusted family and friends can also be a viable option.

Psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of both, have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and lower the risk of suicide.

Mustering up the strength and courage to talk about your struggles is the first step to getting your life back on track.

Written By

Kwame Owusu is a personal development coach and the founder of Too Manly. He holds an MBA from a top business school and is committed to helping men all around the world look, feel and live the prime of their life.

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