THE BLOG
08/18/2014 01:45 pm ET Updated Oct 16, 2014

Men and Suicide: An Epidemic The Must Be Confronted Aggressively

Up until recently, throughout our nations history, mental illness is an issue that many Americans have been reluctant to discuss. In fact, in certain circles, it has been downright taboo to even bring up the issue. This has particularly been the case in regards to suicide, in particular, male suicide. Now , given the recent tragic suicide of the beloved mega superstar and Academy Award winner Robin Williams, the walls of silence that have largely kept the topic under wraps have tumbled down. Over the past few years, that have been a considerable amount of research and various studies that have examined the topic in depth.

While suicide is a problem that affects both genders, it is a vice that is far more common in men. In just about every nation, men commit suicide at higher rates than women. A study conducted by the group American Study For Suicide Prevention, confirmed that male suicide is considerably greater than that of females. The reasons behind this gender disparity are varied and debatable. Nonetheless, one thing is for certain, it is problem that must be combated.

Suicide is linked to mental health problems like depression and anxiety, yet there frequently are other external factors that are involved and and are finally receiving attention. Researchers have speculated about other reasons men may have for em­ploying highly lethal means. These explanations suggest that when compared with suicidal women, men who reach the point of suicidal action are:

• More hopeless.
• More clearly resolved to die.
• More likely to be intoxicated and thus more dis inhibited.
• More willing to carry out actions that might leave them injured or disfigured.
• More unconcerned with consequenc­es because of a high risk-taking orientation.
• More likely to have a greater capacity to enact lethal self-injury.

What was more significant is that that middle aged men are the group that have seen dramatic increases in suicide. Historically, younger men have been the age demographic more prone to end their lives. Over the past few decades, this is no longer the case. As of the 21st century, middle-aged men comprise the group of men with the lowest levels of mental and physical well being. This is particularly true for men of lower socio economic backgrounds. Today, middle-aged men transcend two different generations, Generation X (1965-1979) and the Baby Boomers (1946-1964). Boomers are the men who cane of age during the sexual revolution and Women's rights. Social issues dominated the political, social and cultural landscape. They were torn between being the supposed rugged, impervious, Alpha males that their predecessors in the silent generation (men born between 1925-1945) or many of their fathers, while also being seen as strong, yet compassionate, socially progressive supposedly well-rounded men that the era they grew up in often personified and commanded. In short, they are confused.

The study found that the suicide rate was 10 times higher in lower income men than upper class men. This fact itself is ,(at least to me), not all that surprising. The fact is that loss of employment can be devastating to anyone. This can particularly be the case for a man (or woman) who may have had a six-figure or higher income and suddenly lose it. Moreover, the less affluent a man is, he is more likely he is to see his job (particularly if it is a blue collar position) as tied to his masculinity. Losing this source of pride and economic stability is undoubtedly devastating for many men, particularly married men with families. He is likely to feel emotionally, psychologically and economically emasculated. Feelings of panic, guilt, shame, resentment, confusion become commonplace. Indeed, the couple of decades have been rough. The current economy, while improving, is still far from robust. Although Robin Williams was a very wealthy and prominent celebrity, he still was not immune.

One thing is for certain, while the reasons for suicide among men of all ages vary, it is incumbent that such men are aware of the health resources available to them in an effort to assist and prevent such men from becoming another tragic statistic.