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Why Do Men Commit Suicide More Often Than Women?

Robin Williams. Michael Hutchence. Ernest Hemingway. Kurt Cobain.

What do all these men have in common? Besides being global celebrities, all three of these men have committed suicide.

In 2020 alone, nearly 75% of suicides in England and Wales consisted of men. This statistic is just the tip of the iceberg as the trend of male suicide dominating over female suicide has been seen in nearly every country around the globe.

Why is this the case? Why do men commit suicide more often than women?

Whilst it’s not often helpful to generalise across all cases of male suicide, it’s important to look at a few common reasons behind a large majority of male suicides.

Male Suicide Statistics

Despite the United Kingdom seeing the lowest rates of male suicide in centuries, it is still the leading killer of men under the age of 45.

It is estimated that around 15.5 of every 100,000 men commit suicide every year. While this number may not seem overwhelmingly large, it’s thought that women sit at around 4.9 out of every 100,000. A huge disparity.

Globally, male suicide rates are nearly 2 times higher for men than for women. To understand why this is happening, it’s important to get the full scope of this alarming pandemic.

The graph below shows just a brief example of the stark contrast between male and female suicide rates per 100,000 people.

CountryFemale SuicideMale Suicide
Scotland / Ireland7.119.6
England / Wales4.915.4
United States5.522.0
Why Are Men Killing Themselves at Such Higher Rates Than Women?

Since we can clearly see, this problem isn’t just related to one specific country, it begs the question: why?

While mental health and suicide are complex topics that will never be black or white, the best we can do is keep the conversation open to bring education and awareness to this sensitive subject.

So, why are men committing suicide at rates far greater than women in almost every country in the world?

The Way Men Are Brought Up in Society

How many times have you seen a father tell his son to ‘man up’?

The boy is showing lots of emotions, maybe he fell and grazed his knee or maybe another child on the playground took his toy away from him. No matter the cause, boys from childhood are taught that to be a man they must bottle up their feelings. Expressing sadness means they are ‘weak’ or ‘feminine’.

Men are far less likely to seek help for mental health struggles due to this stigma of being a ‘tough man’ in society. Men are expected to provide and protect in nearly every country. Anything other than this is considered a violation of their manhood.

Since men are taught from birth to bury their struggles deep within themselves, many of them may have trauma from childhood they never were able to address. This can manifest into many mental health problems as they grow into adults. Depression lies in the background of nearly every suicide.

Intergenerational Trauma

Did you know? The actions of your great, great, great grandparents probably still impact you to this day.

It is true – family trauma can easily be passed down from grandfather to father to son, and so on and so forth. Let’s say a little boy has been taught from birth that ‘crying is for wussies.’ Whilst it’s easy to sit and blame the father for imprinting this idea into his son’s head, it’s important to take a step back. This father is likely repeating the same mantras he was told as a child. Maybe the father’s father grew up in more conservative times and told him from a young age that men don’t show emotions or talk about their feelings.

Again, whilst it is easy to sit and point the finger at the grandfather, it’s likely he learned this from his own father. Intergenerational trauma like this can be passed on for centuries.

This type of parenting is incredibly destructive as again, it teaches boys to bury everything deep down within them for the sake of ‘being a man’. This is an easy gateway for depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

Thankfully, we are in a day and age where mental health is talked about more than ever before. It takes education to break the chains of generational curses.

Women Have More Support

It’s no secret that women are more in tune with their emotional needs and many of them have no problem talking with others about them. Communicating with friends or family members about issues is one of the main ways women cope with mental health or life stressors.

Whilst it is not fair to stereotype all men, many are unlikely to reach out to other males for help and support when they’re feeling down or depressed. Even if they were to, it’s likely they’d be given a beer and a slap on the back.

Men are not raised to be able to acknowledge their own emotions, let alone those of others. In addition, many men cannot reach out to family members either, as many of these issues stem from the roles and expectations they were taught by their own parents.

Women are far more likely to reach out to friends, family, or seek therapy for mental health problems. While there is still a stigma attached to mental health, the bar has drastically decreased for women yet is still high – if not higher, for men.

We Are Killing Our Men

No, not every single case of suicide is linked to these three common reasons, however a large majority of them are. Society has raised men in such a way as to neglect their own emotional needs. No matter the gender, every human being experiences emotions. Yet men are told to simply ignore this core part of themselves.

So, we end up with a world full of men that are unable to cope with depression, loneliness, hopelessness, anxiety, or stress. The result? A sharp suicide gender gap.

We as a society are killing our men.

If you have a male in your life close to you, remind them that you’re a safe space to confide in. If you’re a mother, raise your son up in a way that they can live as a happy, healthy adult.

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, help is available. There are a number of organisations you can contact, including:

Orchestrate Health offers bespoke mental health services that people can access from the comfort of their own home or within their community, with rapid response times and even daily visits if needed. Orchestrate Health can provide help for those struggling with mental health issues, and remove the inconvenience of travelling to and from appointments.





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