04/24/2012 03:22 pm ET Updated Jun 24, 2012

Help Me Save a Million Men

"If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer." -- Randolph M. Nesse, M.D

When I was 5 years old and my father was 42, he tried to commit suicide. The stresses of trying to earn a living and provide for his family during difficult economic times overwhelmed him. Though he didn't die physically, he was crippled emotionally and our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father and to so many other wounded fathers.

According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 36,000 people kill themselves. Over 29,000 (about 80 percent) are male. Several times that number attempt suicide.

But suicide isn't the only way men's lives are cut short. "Up to 80 percent of all illnesses are stress-induced," says Woodson Merrell, M.D., chairman of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center.[1] Although stress impacts everyone, men are particularly vulnerable.[2] According to social scientist Dr. Thomas Joiner, "Males experience higher mortality rates than females at all stages of life from conception to old age."[3]

Statistics from the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that men have a higher death rate for nine of the 10 leading causes of death (numbers are deaths per 100,000 population):

"Over 330,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the U.S. alone if men's risk of dying was as low as women's," says University of Michigan researcher, Daniel J. Kruger, PhD. "Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death," says Kruger's colleague, Randolph M. Nesse, M.D.

Do you know of other resources you believe could help save men's lives? Let's work together to make them available to men and the women who love them.

Here's my simple idea: We know stress kills, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If we can reduce men's risk of death to the same level as women's, we can save nearly a million men within three years. Let's get started. Please comment on this blog post with your idea or resource. You can also contact me directly at

For more by Jed Diamond, click here.

For more on mental health, click here.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


[1] Merrell, Woodson with Merrell, Kathleen (2008). The Source: Unleash Your Natural Energy, Power Up your Health and Feel 10 Years Younger. New York: Free Press, p. 21.

[2] Courtenay, Will. (2011). Dying to Be Men: Psychosocial, Environmental, and Biobehavioral Directions in Promoting the Health of Men and Boys. New York: Routledge, p. 3-4.

[3] Joiner, Thomas. (2011). Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men's Success. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, p. 7