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article imageWorld Suicide Prevention Day: Male suicide rate 3.5 times higher

By Marcus Hondro     Sep 10, 2016 in Health
September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day and at last the epidemic rate of male suicides is being noted. Men are three to four times more likely to take their own lives, a stat that holds true in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and other countries.
Connect, communicate, care
The International Assoc. for Suicide Prevention (IASP) sponsors the day and, along with the World Health Organization (WHO), believes highlighting the tragedy will help end it. The group notes that not only does it take lives but suicide leaves behind devastated loved ones.
"The World Health Organization estimates over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds," a press release from IASP reads. "Up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt.
"The tragic ripple effect means that there are many, many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has tried to take his or her own life," the IASP adds. "And this is happening in spite of the fact that suicide is preventable."
The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day this year is 'Connect, Communicate, Care,' three words the IASP says "are at the heart of suicide prevention." The IASP promotes literature on prevention and sponsors events worldwide that accent the need to connect and communicate with people in need of support.
Understanding suicide
The reason for so many male suicides is not understood. There are theories, such as men still being socialized to be 'tough' and the fact they are far less likely to ask for help and statistically far less likely to see a doctor. Men have a host of pressures that arguably women do not and as a species in many contemporary societies men have been virtually demonized.
Jane Powell is the CEO of the U.K. group called 'Calm', the 'Campaign Against Living Miserably' and is very involved in suicide prevention. She notes that suicide is the largest killer of men under 45 in the U.K. and males are more likely to kill themselves in every age category, even as children.
In her experience it is a phenomena that has not been addressed or, often, is not even talked about. She writes that "the extraordinary truth is we don’t know why" men are killing themselves at such an astonishing rate. She says the time for something to be done about it is long overdue.
"Today is a wake-up call for male suicide to be taken seriously," Powell said. "Twelve men die at their own hands every day (in the U.K.). Seventy-six percent of lives lost to suicide in the U.K. are male. Telling men to reach out for help isn’t enough. The question still lies unanswered: why men?"
Higher male suicide rate
In the United States, where men are 3.6 times more likely to take their own lives, the most recent statistics reveal that about 117 people kill themselves daily and 92 are men. Proportionately the numbers are the same or worse in Canada, Australia and many other countries.
Men lead in most categories of early death but, along with being murdered (over 75 percent of murder victims are male), the disproportion is greatest when it comes to suicide. Were the numbers reversed and women were committing suicide at between three and four times the rate of men, it seems likely research dollars would be allocated toward finding out why and doing something about it.
It's common to find online and print articles about suicide that fail to mention the higher rate amongst men. They talk about suicide numbers overall, many include graphs, but there will be no mention of the grim male suicide statistics.
In an article in the New York Times in April, U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High, author Sabrina Tavernise mentions all manner of suicide statistics, highlighting that the rate was up for women without noting it was still 3.6 times higher for men until the 24th, and final, paragraph. And that only after she highlighted, for the fourth time, the female rate.
Were the numbers reversed it is unthinkable that her story would have buried such notable information at the end; most readers don't get that far in such a lengthy piece. But yes, those that hung in learned there is a great disparity between male and female suicide rates.
And they may have surmised that nothing much is being done about it.
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