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Statistics Show Suicide Prevalent in Men
When considering the topic of suicide a paradox is presented. Statistically, women have much higher rates of depression, one of the common precursors to suicidal behaviors. So if this is so, why is suicide considered a male problem? And given that designation, how can we do a better job at identifying the signs that a father, brother, spouse, or friend may be considering taking his own life?
It is a fact that men commit suicide at much higher rates than women. Out of the approximate 30,000 suicide deaths each year in the U.S., about 80% of these were committed by men. Statistics provided by the National Institute of Mental Health show that as the age of the suicide victims increases, the percentage of males also increases, from a five-fold difference in the 20-24 year old range to seven times higher in retirement aged men. Why is it that as a man ages he becomes more despondent?
When considering the motivations for suicide, which include a sense of not belonging or feeling alone in the world, the feeling of being a burden on loved ones, and not being afraid to die, it may help explain why men are more prone. Even when the first two motivations are equivalent between the sexes, in general, men are bigger risk takers, allowing them to act on the third motivation.
This can be seen in the data that show women who attempt suicide are more apt to use methods that are not considered violent, such as overdosing on medication. To accomplish suicide through overdose is complicated, meaning that many women who attempt to end their lives this way do not succeed. Men, on the other hand, may be more open to use firearms or hanging, which are more likely to end in their death.
Other factors that may influence someone to take their life include depression, substance abuse or addiction, and stressful life circumstances such as divorce or financial issues. With the evidence that males are more open to ending their lives, understanding the signs of suicide behavior in men may provide the important warning signals that can save a life.
Warning Signs of Suicide in a Man
When considering the signs of suicide behavior in men, in most cases the red flags are aligned with general warning signs for suicide. However there are some male-specific signs in addition to the general signs. Signs of suicidal thoughts and ideation may include:
- Expressions by the man that they see themselves as a failure, a loser
- Sees themselves as a burden to their loved ones
- Discussing suicide options in conversations with others, such as “If you were to kill yourself how would you do it?”
- Making changes to their will or family trust
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Persistent depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Obtaining a weapon
- Giving away valued possessions
- Suddenly engaging in high-risk behaviors
- Devastating financial circumstances or loss of job
- Loss of a significant other, grief
- Isolating behaviors, avoiding activities and social outings once enjoyed
- Changes in appearance, lack of interest in hygiene
- Recent life crisis, such as divorce or diagnosed serious medical condition
- Slowed thinking or motor skills
- Extreme fatigue
Identifying Depression in Men
People mistakenly believe that only women struggle with depression. In reality, more than six million men in the U.S. are clinically depressed each year, and often that is accompanied by substance abuse and a secondary mental health condition like anxiety. Even so, men are reluctant to admit they need help or treatment for their depression, which only makes the condition and the consequences from it that much worse, including the male propensity to completing a suicide attempt.
The symptoms of depression include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report or observation made by others.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities more of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal thoughts without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
If a cluster of these symptoms persists most of the time for more than two weeks it is indicative of major depressive disorder and requires treatment.
Treatment for Depression
Treatment for depression is the same regardless of gender. Generally, depression treatment involves a combination of both antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. Antidepressants can be effective in up to 70% of patients, however this success rate reflects possibly trialing several different medications before finding the one that is most effective.
Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy, and is conducted in both individual therapy sessions and group therapy sessions. Depending on the specific needs of the patient, the psychotherapist will select a certain therapy modality that would be effective. For depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help patients identify how their irrational thought patterns are leading to behaviors that reinforce their low mood. CBT can help the patient reshape their thought and behavior patterns toward more positive, constructive ones. Psychodynamic therapy involves a longer treatment plan so a deeper examination into the past traumas or emotionally painful events may be contributing to the depression.
Suicide Prevention and Depression Treatment for Men
The Treatment Specialist connects you to a treatment center that offers professional experience assisting individuals seeking help for mental health disorders such as major depression. After assessing your or a loved ones needs, the highly trained specialists will guide you toward high quality mental health providers who can offer inpatient depression treatment. If you are wondering about the signs of suicide behavior in men in relation to a loved one, please call a Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.