There are about 33,000 suicides every year in America. Some 25,000 of these are men. That makes it the 8th leading cause of death among males. Interestingly it also seems to be a white phenomenon. 73% of all suicide deaths are white males. Not sure why that is, but it is well beyond statistical noise so it really stands out when looking at the numbers.
But as big as the numbers are, this is a largely ignored issue. Certainly the male aspect of it is. Of course the MRA corner of the blogosphere has certainly taken this up, but it is often still something seen as just an abstract concept. Sure, men commit suicide at greater rates than women. But its not like its personal right? Well, Hawaiian Libertarian was recently affected by such a tragedy. You can read his account of the death of a longtime friend here and then here. I am both glad that he posted this, as well as saddened by his loss.
About.com lists some of the risk factors as
# Using drugs and/or alcohol to help cope with emotions, relationships, pressure of work etc.
# Social isolation, living alone.
# Not being able to form or sustain meaningful relationships.
# Divorce or relationship breakdowns.
# A history of physical and sexual abuse.
# Being bullied at school/college/work.
# loss of a loved one through trauma or disease.
# mental illness, particularly where this is related to depression. painful and/or debilitating illnesses or conditions.
Obviously the divorce/relationship breakdown are a huge factor, and unemployment is also another problem with the continued lack of jobs. But I would want to point out that last line regarding depression. I’ve blogged on it previously, but want to state again that the common concept of depression is really more of the way females experience depression. Sure men can also get sad and gloomy when depressed, but a more common and unfortunately missed symptom of male depression is anger. MayoClinic lists the symptoms of male depression as
* Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
* Alcohol or substance abuse
* Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
* Inappropriate anger
* Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
* Infidelity or unhealthy sexual relationships
Note that none of these are the standard conception of depression. Rather, they are usually just written off as stereotypical male behavior. We need, as a society, to recognize these symptoms in our men and start coming along side of them to get them past the depression, instead of just writing them off. There is a defined and knowable cost of not doing this. Its at least 25,000 needless deaths every year. Its certainly time to change this.
The statistics used for this post can be found at suicide.org