Year on year the suicide rates for men keep rising. Today we ask, what key stats are effecting this rising rate and which 3 components make up mental health for men?
Read Time: 4 Mins
Sensitive content: Themes of suicide, COVID and low mental health
For the past few years, Movemeber has brought increased awareness to men’s mental and physical health through targeted and humorous campaigns. The light-hearted nature of their marketing has worked wonders for the charity, with participant numbers and donation totals growing every year.
Though there are clear movements towards men’s mental and physical health being increasingly talked about and accepted as the norm, 40% of men still do not talk about their mental health even though 77% of the same research group said that they have ‘suffered from anxiety/stress/depression’ in the past.
These men stated that they did not discuss their mental health because:
- ‘I’ve learnt to deal with it’ (40%)
- ‘I don’t wish to be a burden to anyone’ (36%)
- ‘I’m too embarrassed’ (29%)
- ‘There’s negative stigma around this type of thing’ (20%)
- ‘I don’t want to admit I need support’ (17%)
- ‘I don’t want to appear weak’ (16%)
- ‘I have no one to talk to’ (14%)
Looking at these reasons – there is a clear theme of ‘gender bias’ revolving around the stereotypes of men appearing as the stronger or more stable gender. These stereotypes have led to feelings of exclusion when asking for help.
Though there is less than a 10% difference between men and women receiving help, male suicides have reached an all-time high in 2020, with men accounting for three-quarters of suicide deaths registered in 2019.
Men also have higher rates of alcohol abuse, and are 2x more likely to binge drink than women and there are 3x more men than women reported frequently using drugs. Additionally, in 2017, around 86% of homeless people were men and 73% of adults who went missing were men.
These statistics are highly important when discussing the whys and hows of male mental health.
What contributes to mental health?
Health, employment status and relationship status are the three key factors that affect mental health. For example, “people who are in poor health, unemployed or single are more likely to report lower levels of personal wellbeing.” (source).
Men specifically feel greater pressure to be on the right career path and “feel pressured to work long hours, achieve exceptional results, and outdo other people within their team” (source). This strain is applied through the stereotypes that men must financially provide for their family, in the same way, some women feel pressured to be nurturing.
It is theorised that this pressure is the reasoning as to why 25% of male suicides include those aged 45 to 49, of which who have a lower socioeconomic status and have been brought up behind a generation that encouraged men to be strong and silent.
How this impacts today
COVID-19 has led to a generalised increase in mental health vulnerability across the board due to isolation, health concerns and other worrying concerns. The impact is suspected to be worse on men than women as, the suicide helpline, Samaritans, recorded that 1/3 of all calls were related to coronavirus, remembering that 77% of all suicides are men. Unemployment figures also contribute to this concern as levels peak and job security is no longer promised.
Currently, we’re unable to determine how badly the virus has affected mental health, but so far the outlook appears bleak.
Though the indicators are similar in both genders, men are less likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety, as they tend not to communicate about their symptoms and difficulties compared to women.
For the highest risk group (aged 45-49) there is immense pressure to adhere to gender stereotypes and many use their masculine attributes as a sense of identity. Asking for help, unfortunately, goes against the outdated stereotypes of men that still exist in society today.
What Movemeber and other similar charities represent is a movement away from this toxicity of gender stereotypes and towards an open environment, that discusses male mental health with the same importance and acceptance as female mental health.
For those currently experiencing low mental health, we at LiveOn Community want to reinforce the idea that you are not alone, and asking for help does not decrease your worth or invalidate your personal experiences. Though we are a grief community, we focus on providing mental health advice and resources that have a positive impact.
Grief is rarely felt in isolation. Often coupled with depression or anxiety, grief affects both genders in the same way and there are no changes in the way we progress through our grief journey. Our resources (unless specified) are catered to aid everyone with no prejudice in the way we address and aid our community members.
Visit our Helpful Websites page for links to helplines and other centres. There’s no shame in asking for help.