This article will be tough to read and may trigger some people. Caution is advised.
Suicide is tricky to write about because it brings up so many negative connotations. Writing about male suicide is even trickier because I am not a man; in some people’s minds, that disqualifies me from writing about it.
However, we shall tackle together the subject of male suicide and discuss ways society (including you and me) can help.
The Facts and the Statistics
Our men are struggling as their role in society is shifting. This battle has existed for as long as there were men, but in 2023 the war turned from fighting enemies outside to slaying internal demons.
Between 1999 and 2017, suicide rates in the United States increased by 33 percent. Males of all ages are dying by suicide at incredible rates, with men between the ages of 25–44 making up 27%, and men ages 45–64 increasing in rate from 20.8% to 30.1% 1.
Incredibly, the number of men who die by suicide is 1.8 times larger in rural areas than in the cities.
Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among Americans aged 10–34 and the fourth leading cause of death among people aged 35–54 2.
Although women attempt suicide more than men, men die 75% more often because of their choice of weapon. Women prefer pills or other means, while men often choose to use a weapon or weaponize a vehicle.
The reason so many men are dying by suicide is that they are more likely to hold all their emotions and distress in and suffer in silence.
Which Men Die by Suicide? You Might Be Surprised
It is nearly impossible to know which men are in danger of suicide. You may think the people in therapy working on problems are most at risk, but you would be wrong.
The men who appear strong, stoic, and as if they have it all together are more at risk because they don’t see speaking about how they feel emotionally as masculine. The idea that seeking help for suicidal ideations is wimpy kills more men than society will acknowledge.
Where do men get these fallacies about their masculinity not being compatible with seeking help? From all of us. We are to blame, and we are complicit in their deaths.
Farmers are at high risk of dying by suicide from the stress of doing their job mixed with holding in their emotions. Truck drivers are dying by suicide because we expect them to travel 24/7 with little sleep and bad food, plus needing to leave their families for weeks.
Doctors are dying by suicide because of the long hours they keep, the illnesses they see, and financial difficulties due to student debt.
You see, it isn’t only males who are being treated for depression; it is also men on who society places unreasonable expectations.
Men cry and become overwhelmed with emotion. That’s okay; they are human beings with limits and fears, just like everyone else.
We must improve the way we treat men.
How Society Can Enhance a Man’s Self-Confidence
Men today face a critical problem that is one of the driving forces behind the increasing suicide rates among them. That problem is a lack of self-confidence. This lack of self-esteem leaves men vulnerable to negative thinking that can lead to suicide.
The definition of self-confidence is it is the ability to trust in one’s skills, judgments, and qualities. Men today must fight, if not physically, then mentally, against those who would belittle them. Those behaviors cause men to feel deep inside that they cannot trust themselves in many areas of their lives, including forming relationships. Some believe that self-confidence is not a skill, but one is born with it. Instead, self-confidence is something men learn from their environment 3.
Our men are afraid. They would never tell anyone that they are experiencing fear, but they are afraid. Many factors play into their fear, but the everyday stress they face, combined with their lack of self-confidence, causes men to fear that they are not enough and that they cannot and should not find a loving relationship with anyone, including friends.
Self-confidence helps men as it is linked to being more resilient, less fearful, and less anxious. Confident men are more resilient, less fearful, and less anxious because they have a stronger sense of identity and can silence their self-defeating inner voices.
A man who feels self-confident and at peace with their inner self when facing stress or loss will bounce back faster than men who do not. This ability to bounce back is critical to avoid the negative thinking of suicidal ideation.
How Men Can Build Their Self-Confidence
Many men believe that being macho builds them up and makes them more self-confident. Reality states that this belief is not supported. The more macho a man appears self-confident, the lower his self-esteem and the greater their internal fear.
There are six methods men can use to build higher self-esteem for themselves.
Begin a Quest to Belief in Your Decision-Making Skills. You must work on this skill as it is the basis for all the other steps to building self-confidence. Focus on this moment and remind yourself that you have the intelligence and experience to make decisions.
Acknowledge your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, whether or not you have low self-confidence. Instead of being embarrassed or feeling shame because of past mistakes, acknowledge and embrace them as potential learning experiences. Take responsibility for your errors and move on.
Learn to practice gratitude. Gratitude has a positive impact and practicing it will raise your self-confidence. Try practicing mindfulness, ask yourself what you are grateful for, and list them on paper or aloud. If you have a difficult time with this step, start small. Can you hear, see, do you have enough food, etc.
Accept the fact that change is constant. You must recognize that change is constant by continually happening. Face the changes you fear head-on and change what you can while accepting the things you cannot.
Believe in yourself that you are worthy of being happy. Being happy is vital for men to continue, just as it is for women. One cannot successfully form lasting relationships without believing in oneself. Believing you are worthy of happiness also is critical to self-confidence. Your worth is not tied to your sexual orientation, ethnicity, or race. You are worthy because you exist; it is your human right. Believing you are worthy means you can absorb happiness into yourself and your life.
Embrace that you are not perfect. All people have imperfections. If you have imperfections, it is critical to realize that millions of other guys share your issues. It is judicious to remember that it is good to incorporate your flaws into yourself and learn from them.
For too long, society has denied men their humanness, telling them they must never cry or show their emotions, leaving men alone and suffering. Is it any wonder that horrific suicide rates exist?
Our men are in trouble, but we can change everything for them if we convince them that seeking help from a mental health professional is ‘normal.’ One way to do this is to point out that men would go to the doctor if they had severe pain, so why cannot they go to the doctor for emotional pain?
Society must ease up on our expectations of men. We must back them up when they seek help by reminding them that they are worthy of all life has to offer them and that the stigma against them is wrong.
Working together, we can help men live long and happy lives.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please, call 988. 988 is a free and confidential mental health hotline to help people when they are feeling like self-harming.
“It dawns on you one day… how precious your life is and how not okay it is for anyone, ever, to cause you any amount of suffering, ever. Then the next time you step out the door you look at everyone and you’re thinking, “My life is precious and you’re not allowed to hurt me.”
― C. JoyBell C.
“Life is so precious! Live with love, joy, happiness, and abundance.”
― Debasish Mridha
- Top 10 Causes of Death in Men. Illinois Department of Public Health. Retrieved from: https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/life-stages-populations/mens-health/top-10-causes-death.html
- Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db330.htm
- Stewart, S. (2005). Suicidality, interpersonal trauma and cultural diversity: A review of the literature. Australian e-Journal for the advancement of Mental Health, 4(2), 108–128.