Why do Men Commit Suicide More Often Than Women

Author: ecobear | Date Posted: 29th July 2017 | Category: Suicide
While completed suicide is the tenth cause of death across the world, accounting for somewhere between 0.5 to 1.4 percent of the world’s population, most of the world sees an uneven distribution of suicides between men and women. While 75 percent of all recorded suicides occurred within second-world countries, statistics behind male suicides within those second- and first-world countries reveal a greater proclivity toward the act than females. Within second-world countries, male suicides are 50 percent more frequent than female suicides and 350 percent more frequent than the females of first-world countries. A breakdown of the ages where the act is most common yields two main demographics: Between 10 and 20 million people perform unsuccessful suicide, also defined as “non-fatal attempted suicide,” each year. Annoyingly, most statistics collected within the United States do not draw a distinction between “completed suicides” and “attempted suicides;” American statistics place Caucasian males of age 80 or older as the most prominent demographic of suicide within the country. Depending on the person’s chosen mode of self-execution, even these “failed” attempts can lead to permanent injuries, disabilities or disfigurement:
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People living past the age of 70.

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People between the ages of 15 and 30, mostly in the nations of the West.

  • Surviving a self-inflicted gunshot can lead to brain damage, blindness and reduced functionality of nerves within the facial region.
  • Improperly slice one’s wrists can result in damage to the tendons, inhibiting muscle control or tactile sensitivity.
  • A failed attempt at drowning, one of the least common methods of self-destruction, can result in brain damage due to decreased levels of oxygen reaching the brain.
  • Failure to die from electrocution can lead to intense levels of pain and carries the possibility of electrical burns.
  • Surviving the impact from leaping off a high surface can result in organ damage, fractured bone structure or even paralysis.

Cultural Validation of Suicide or Footnotes Regarding the Topic

When looking over the cultures of the world, there are some notable rituals and observances that focus on male suicide, albeit because only men were allowed on the battlefield.

  • All of the Abrahamic faiths regard suicide as an offense to God.
  • The suicide bombers among Muslim extremists that have sadly become commonplace in coverage of the “war on terror.” These acts are carried out in righteousness and religious zeal and come from a mindset where the act is more important than the actor.
  • Japanese culture introduced the West to two notable forms of “honorable” suicide:The ritualistic form of suicide known as “seppuku” or “harakiri,” meaning “belly cutting.” The ritual first appears near the end of the 12th Century CE and involves slicing across one’s belly from left to right and then leaning forward far enough that an assistant, usually an ally or underling, could slice midway through the neck and sever the spinal cord. When done properly, i.e. the head remains attached to the body by the remaining length of neck/throat, the samurai’s dishonor would be purged from his record; decapitation was to be avoided at all costs because the head was intended to slope into its owner’s hands. A more formal approach to the ritual was established in the 17th century that allowed for alternatives if an underling was unavailable; after gutting himself with one of his three blades, the disgraced samurai would then either stab himself in the throat or stand up and fall forward so that his sword would pierce his heart. A variation to the battlefield version of seppuku was known as “jūmonji giri” and entailed making a secondary, vertical cut across the abdomen. Any samurai who performed this difficult and far more painful cross-cut was to accept his pain in quiet agony until he died with his hands covering his face. While a samurai’s lord might order him to perform seppuku, likely as punishment for a gravely dishonorable offense, most samurai would voluntarily perform seppuku as an act of contrition when their honor merited restoration or salvation; such warriors would usually ask for permission to do so. As a samurai was to serve his lord at all costs, some samurai would perform the ritual after learning of his master’s death so that he might join his master.Echoes of the Japanese mentality of “death before dishonor” can be seen in World War II. At that point in time, the Axis country’s air force would deliberately pilot their aircraft into the Allies, taking as many enemy lives as possible in the ensuring explosion from a kamikaze attack. The term kamikaze means “divine wind.”Despite these terms referring to specific forms of suicide, the Japanese word for non-specific suicide is “jisatsu.”
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The ritualistic form of suicide known as "seppuku" or "harakiri," meaning "belly cutting."

The ritual first appears near the end of the 12th Century CE and involves slicing across one’s belly from left to right and then leaning forward far enough that an assistant, usually an ally or underling, could slice midway through the neck and sever the spinal cord. When done properly, i.e. the head remains attached to the body by the remaining length of neck/throat, the samurai’s dishonor would be purged from his record; decapitation was to be avoided at all costs because the head was intended to slope into its owner’s hands. A more formal approach to the ritual was established in the 17th century that allowed for alternatives if an underling was unavailable; after gutting himself with one of his three blades, the disgraced samurai would then either stab himself in the throat or stand up and fall forward so that his sword would pierce his heart. A variation to the battlefield version of seppuku was known as “jūmonji giri” and entailed making a secondary, vertical cut across the abdomen. Any samurai who performed this difficult and far more painful cross-cut was to accept his pain in quiet agony until he died with his hands covering his face. While a samurai’s lord might order him to perform seppuku, likely as punishment for a gravely dishonorable offense, most samurai would voluntarily perform seppuku as an act of contrition when their honor merited restoration or salvation; such warriors would usually ask for permission to do so. As a samurai was to serve his lord at all costs, some samurai would perform the ritual after learning of his master’s death so that he might join his master.

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Echoes of the Japanese mentality of "death before dishonor" can be seen in World War II.

At that point in time, the Axis country’s air force would deliberately pilot their aircraft into the Allies, taking as many enemy lives as possible in the ensuring explosion from a kamikaze attack. The term kamikaze means “divine wind.”

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Despite these terms referring to specific forms of suicide, the Japanese word for non-specific suicide is "jisatsu."

  • Mesoamerican culture features imagery of people offering themselves as sacrifices to the divine. These sacrifices took the form of ritual decapitation via obsidian blade.
  • Immolation, the suicidal act of setting oneself on fire, was used as a form of political protest by several Buddhists and other pacifists. Unfortunately, the prolonged duration involved in burning a human body means that most people attempting immolation will suffer much pain without a guaranteed mortality rate; more than one “immolator” survived after the flame went out, leaving them with scar tissue, severe burns, and damaged lungs.
  • Certain images connected to the Hindu goddess Durga depict a man offering himself to the goddess by means of using a curved blade against his own neck. Within the Shakti denomination of Hinduism, Durga is regarded as a warrior goddess whose portfolio includes the removal of evil as a necessity for the good of others.

The Gender Paradox

With most of those statistics and footnotes out of the way, this article is most concerned with reasons why males are more prone to completing suicide than females. It should be noted that “completed suicide” is growing as the preferred nomenclature over “committed suicide;” the latter term’s use of the word “committed” conveys vague, negative implications that the person has committed a crime in the eyes of the law rather than succumbing to a variety of personal problems.

Reasoning

Research indicates that while women are prone to having suicidal thoughts more often than men, men make up for this disparity by acting on such thoughts. One possibility for this comes down to traditional gender roles; many careers and activities that have been culturally regarded as masculine pursuits, such as serving in the military, hunting predatory animals, firefighting and so on, are inherently riskier pursuits that can lead to danger.

Another trapping of the stereotypical male is being able to act independently and without the assistance of others, meaning that many at-risk males are unwilling or unable to seek outside assistance for their issues. The resulting fear of being perceived as weak and unmanly only adds fuel to the self-destructive fire of impulses brewing in the male’s mind. Indeed, a 2003 study assessed suicide data obtained by the World Health Organization and analyzed four elements of 66 countries’ cultures; countries noted for fostering a strong sense of individuality had a notably higher prevalence of suicide among men over countries that encouraged placing a group’s interests before the individual’s.

Yet another social hazard that leads to male suicide comes from the traditional role of “provider.” Loss of employment, financial means or even a spouse, has caused more than a few men to lose any reason to remain alive, bringing to their minds thoughts such as “What good am I if I can’t contribute to society/help my family?” and “What’s left for me without my partner in life?”

In the case of the demographic of men aged 70 and older, the people are ten times as likely to commit suicide as females of the same age. For many elderly men, suicide is seen as a way of relieving their family of being a burden, escaping from spending the rest of their lives in unending pain or as a response to being placed within a retirement home, believing that they will be left to slowly be forgotten by everyone they know and love.

Having a Prior History of Attempted Suicide

Sadly, the most successful method of telling if someone will attempt suicide is if they have tried it before. Fortunately, only one out of every five individuals who previously attempted suicide will attempt it again. It should be noted that those who engage in self-harm are not necessarily prone toward suicide nor considering it; furthermore, women will more often engage in self-harm than men.

The Relationship Between Suicide and War Veterans

Very few suicidal people enroll in the armed forces and the handful that try to enlist will usually be denied the opportunity. Rare is the serviceman who participates in a war zone and returns to his home life the same person. There are countless letters as well as newspaper articles, written by reporters or the concerned family and friends of veterans that discuss how “the war” did something to their husband, their father or their brother; all of which make a case for “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” sometimes referred to in older texts as “shell shock.” A recent study by the APA indicated that two-thirds of homeless veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan exhibited PTSD; these results exceeded the normal figures that placed PTSD among homeless veterans at somewhere between eight and 13 percent. For more information on how PTSD can have an affect on a person’s willingness to attempt suicide, look further down in the section about “Mental Illness.”

The level of attention that a country gives its veterans can also play a factor in how prone a veteran might be to attempting suicide. Countries with under-funded and/or understaffed care facilities may leave at-risk veterans to believe they have little support from the country they gave their lives to. Homelessness is also an issue for veterans, some of whom may have lost their homes while they were away fighting for their country or had difficulty adjusting to civilian life. The Wounded Warrior project projects that around 50,000 veterans sleep in shelters or in the streets every night and a survey on the frequency of mental illness among America’s homeless population places the frequency at somewhere around 20 to 25 percent; when combined, these figures indicate that between 10 and 12.5 thousand homeless veterans are dealing with mental issues that could lead them toward attempting suicide.

The injuries that a soldier takes home with him or that enable him to be discharged may also be a motivation for a veteran to commit suicide. In cases of physical injuries, such as lost limbs or blindness, the veteran may simply be unable or unwilling to endure living with their condition or being dependent upon the medications and procedures involved in the treatment of his problems.

Substance Abuse

This is defined as chronic misuse of a substance or being significantly intoxicated. 2.2 to 3.4 percent of drunken suicides belong to the demographic of older men with a previous history of suicide attempts. The underdeveloped brain chemistry of minors is a significant factor in instances where a minor commits suicide after the influence of most drugs; the use of cannabis is not regarded as a factor in suicides that result from substance abuse.

Gambling Addiction

12-24% of people classified as “problem gamblers” will attempt suicide and more than three-quarters of people considered to have a gambling addiction or compulsion are male. Furthermore, the husbands of problem gamblers are three times as likely to attempt suicide as they normally would.

Mental Illness

A variety of mental illnesses can lead to a suicidal response. The most likely mental illnesses exhibited in suicidal individuals were:Additionally, boys undergoing SSRI medications for depression were more likely to commit suicide. This is only a risk with minors; adults are perfectly capable of receiving such medications.

  • Major depressive disorders.
  • Mood disorders like bipolarity.
  • Obsessive compulsive.
  • Personality disorders like borderline personality disorder.
Birthdays

Possibly because it can remind them of their mortality, a modest number of men have committed suicide on their birthdays. These men likely paled at the perception that they had accomplished relatively little with their time on the planet. Men are more likely than women to commit suicide on the day of their birth.

“Success”

While women will consider or attempt suicide far more often than men, men are more likely to complete suicide due to the different approaches commonly taken by the two sexes. Research indicates that suicidal women will engage in methods that are considered less violent, like fatally overdosing on drugs, and suicidal men will pursue their end through visceral acts like hanging, firearms or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ownership of a Firearm

While a study, taken by the American Journal of Public Health in 2016, noted that owning a firearm increased the odds of suicide via firearm, there was a curious wrinkle in their findings; men had a flat increased risk of suicide in homes that owned firearms, even if no firearm was used in a suicidal act. Part of their conclusion was that suicide is a relatively impulsive act and men were quicker to reach for, and use, a firearm if they know they have access to it.

Motor Accidents

An Australian survey of a large community noted that 19.1% of males involved in a suicide attempt had intended to end their lives by fatally crashing their vehicle. Furthermore, 13.3% of that 19.1% had made such an attempt at least once before.

In Summation

While males are more likely to commit suicide, most of the common ways of preventing any suicide are just as sensible and applicable to helping the at-risk males of the world.

  • Look into having him speak with a psychologist and make sure that he does if he seems evasive or leery about it; a psychologist holds conversations, psychiatrists prescribe medications.
  • Let him know that you care. Always be willing to lend him your support and that he knows there is nothing wrong with asking for it.
  • Discourage him from acquiring a firearm if they are legal in your area. If he continues to express concern over his ability to defend himself, suggest a knife, pepper spray or even a guard dog.
  • Do your best to watch out for him during social gatherings where alcohol is present. Make sure that he has a designated driver or can be trusted to abstain if he has expressed a desire to.
  • Make sure that your family and relatives keep in touch with your grandfather and great-grandfather. So long as none of this would be a complete lie, let them know that they are loved, that they are still considered parts of the family and that everyone is doing well.

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