New Findings Suggest Masculinity is a Risk Factor for Suicidal Thinking

Men who report being self-reliant may be at greater risk of suicidal thinking

Zenobia Morrill
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According to a new study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, men who endorse self-reliance, a dominant characteristic of masculinity, are at heightened risk of experiencing suicidal thinking.  These recent findings build upon research highlighting male suicide statistics and continue the discussion connecting Western masculinity characteristics and poorer mental health outcomes.

“Men who are self-reliant may believe that they should be strong in the face of any adversity, consider that feeling down is a sign of weakness, and be unlikely to reach out to friends, family or professional sources for help.”

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Prior studies have examined help-seeking barriers related to mental health issues and suicidality, but the connection between endorsing masculine traits and suicide risk, specifically, goes unexplored.  Global statistics demonstrate that males are 1.6 times as likely to commit suicide as females, a difference that increases to a ratio of 3.5:1 across age-standardized samples in high-income countries.

Reasons put forth to explain this discrepancy range from observations that men opt for more lethal means of suicide, are more reluctant to seek help and are more likely to be heavier substance users. Additionally, gender differences in response to stress have been observed, indicating that men are more likely to respond to stress by experiencing withdrawal, aggressiveness, and depressive systems.

The researchers, led by Jane Pirkis, write that these explanations “are fairly crude, and there is usually no attempt to examine what might sit behind them.”

This leads her research team to investigate larger social forces that may be at play, such as masculinity and how it may manifest into differing behaviors and coping strategies. Masculinity, they note, is not a broad, universal construct, and the construct of masculinity in the Western world takes shape in a set of identifiable characteristics. The authors continue:

“Such characteristics include stoicism, invulnerability, strength, independence, ability to provide for a family, drive, a ‘‘go-getter’’ attitude, and success in chosen endeavours. These characteristics can be positive and adaptive in many ways, but may also contribute to behaviours and cognitions that increase suicide risk.”

This study sought to explore the relationship between masculinity and suicidal thoughts by gathering self-report measures, in a cross-sectional design, from the largest, all-male nationwide cohort study known as the Ten to Men study in Australia. Self-report measures were completed by 13,884 18 to 55-year-old men to assess for adherence to stereotypically masculine traits and for suicidal thinking. Stereotypical masculine traits included (1) work; (2) dominance; (3) risk-taking; (4) heterosexual presentation; (5) power over women; (6) emotional control; (7) Playboy; (8) violence; (9) pursuit of status; (10) winning; and (11) self-reliance.

Previous studies have proffered that additional sociodemographic and clinical variables influence suicidal behavior in males, such as age, marital status, the region of residence, socioeconomic status, employment status, social support, stressful life events, alcohol use, depression, and general practitioner (GP) use. These additional factors were controlled within this study.

The results found that when all additional variables were controlled for, self-reliance, or the reluctance to seek help stemming from the belief that one ought to be impervious and present as strong, stood out as a risk factor in men. While this was the only significant finding across the multiple masculine characteristics, it cannot be assumed that other factors are unrelated to suicidality, the authors warn.

“Suicidal thoughts and behaviours are underpinned by a complex array of factors, and it may be that other aspects of masculinity have an impact on suicidal thoughts via more mediated pathways. For example, high levels of emotional control may lead to fewer close relationships and social isolation, both of which may confer risk for suicidal thinking.”

It is important to note, however, that this study does not establish a causal relationship between self-reliance and suicidality. Rather, it provides evidence for a significant association through a cross-sectional observation utilizing self-report data. Additionally, men who resided in more remote areas of the country and those who were not proficient in English were underrepresented in this sample.

Understanding the association between self-reliance and suicidal thinking contributes to the existing literature which has placed suicidal thoughts at the beginning stages of the continuum toward suicidal actions and follow-through. Understanding the origin and nature of suicidal thoughts not only has the potential to inform successful response and prevention but provides insight into large-scale contextual forces and social constructs that may be impacting individual mental health.

“More generally, as with other areas of suicide prevention, a societal approach is needed. If adherence to an element of dominant masculinity has negative consequences for men, then, as a society, we need to consider ways of ensuring that masculinity is more broadly defined and that men’s roles, relationships, and possible identities are expanded.”

 

 

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Pirkis, J., Spittal, M. J., Keogh, L., Mousaferiadis, T., & Currier, D. (2016). Masculinity and suicidal thinking. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology,52(3), 319-327. doi:10.1007/s00127-016-1324-2 (Abstract)

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Consider what happens to little boys in public schools these days. If they act out their natural inclinations as boys, they are immediately taken to task by teachers who want them to behave like little girls. If that doesn’t work, they are drugged with Ritalin until they become compliant little zombies. A boy bites his pop tart into the shape of a pistol and is expelled from school for displaying violent tendencies.

    The Left has done many destructive things to America. It is quite possible that none will prove to be more destructive than its attempt to obliterate gender distinctions.

    Have you watched the Disney Channel lately? I can’t find a single male character on that network that has an ounce of masculinity left. Most of the male characters I’ve seen there (what little I’m able to stomach) are quite effeminate in their behavior. Why do some in our society seem so hell-bent on drumming out anything that resembles traditional male roles?

    The male figures on TV are no longer strong and in charge they are the clowns and the stupid ones like Homer Simpson.

    What’s wrong with having gender roles? What’s wrong with mom being the nurturer and dad the provider? How is it offensive for mom to be the one who cooks the dinner and dad the one who mows the lawn? What’s wrong with letting boys be boys and girls be girls? The short answer: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s actually human nature. But our society has seen fit to allow a very tiny minority tell the rest of us that we are wrong and hateful if we continue to live within those natural gender roles.

    Of course men are suffering, they don’t want us to learn self sufficiency, don’t buy a tool box and learn how to take care of things, no no get a home warranty make payments, be dependent, be a debt slave. Be powerless… they want you that way.

    Message to American men: You are too stupid to do anything you need a “licensed professional”. You are weak… Thats the message, It never stops.

    If you wonder why we are being overrun with bureaucracy, government freely marching into our homes with intrusive draconian policy, look no further. It’s largely down to the feminization of the men, that has been promoted by the NWO for decades now. The gender the politicians, Hollywood, and the media use as the ideal person has changed from someone who is a strong moral male to a submissive female personality. They portray strong men as ignorant brutish bullies..

    Its all by design.

    ————-

    “This massive value shift in our culture — away from marriage and family life towards a life of self-serving debauchery — resulted, among other things, in the emasculation of the American male.

    He’s been conditioned to believe that traditional masculinity is abhorrent. That it represents a time when women were oppressed; that the only way to move forward is to eradicate any semblance of Tarzan and Jane. Not only does Jane know better than Tarzan, she doesn’t need him. She can do everything herself, thank you very much.

    Men heard this and responded accordingly, because men are like that: they follow women’s and society’s lead, often to their own detriment. As women began to reject marriage and family life as a viable and noble goal and make education and career their raison d’être, men had no choice but to step back.

    Today they have nowhere to go, as I wrote in 2012. So they live in their parents’ basements.”

    This study has it all wrong.

    • I ran out of edit time, oh forget it, what I put already should be enough to explain it.

      Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology… Now they want to eradicate masculinity and self-reliance in an effort make us all basically wards of the state.

      Much more difficult for them to take half your paycheck and tax the crap out of your house ect in a nation where masculinity and self-reliance are core values then in a nation of feminized men. Its all by design don’t let them fool you.

      This explains why masculinity and self-reliance may cause problems > Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill https://www.madinamerica.com/2012/02/why-anti-authoritarians-are-diagnosed-as-mentally-ill/

    • Well said, The_cat. We do need the men to act like mature, fiscally responsible, ethical men. That comes from a woman who was declared “unemployed” by an insane and criminal psychiatrist who knew nothing about me, except apparently that I wasn’t bringing in short run profits for the fiscally irresponsible, globalist banksters who have destroyed our economy, brought us never ending wars, and want us all to function as slaves for them in their insane NWO.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCpjmvaIgNA

      In reality I was a stay at home mom who volunteered about 30-40 hours a week, rehabbed my home, gardened a lot, and built up a prolific art portfolio. Acting like a woman is also a “mental illness,” according to today’s psychiatrists and psychologists. But my son will be graduating Phi Beta Kappa from university this spring, and my daughter won “the highest award for a female” upon her graduation from high school last year, so maybe psychiatrists declaring stay at home moms to be “irrelevant to reality” is unwise? It is our society that is insane.

      I will point out it is also the Rockefellers who largely financed the miseducation of today’s “mental health industry,” as well as the allopathic mainstream medical community, whose treatments/mistreatments are the third leading cause of death in America today.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6J_7PvWoMw

      http://www.webdc.com/pdfs/deathbymedicine.pdf

      And our founding fathers did forewarn us of these globalist central banksters long ago.

      http://www.themoneymasters.com/the-money-masters/famous-quotations-on-banking/

    • Your observations are quite accurate, but I would question blaming “the Left” for this state of affairs. I grew up in the 60s, when “the Right” was running the schools, and it was just as oppressive, though in different ways. Boys were expected to wear boy clothing and be aggressive and go out for football and not cry, and girls were expected to wear skirts and take Home Ec and only go to college to get a husband. But kids were humiliated and shamed and sometimes hit and had zero power.

      The problem is not “the Left” or “the Right” but AUTHORITARIANISM from either end of the spectrum. The idea that we can take kids and put them through some kind of grinder and have them all come out the same is the core problem. Whether it is right-wing authoritarianism, enforced through violence, fear and shame, or left-wing authoritarianism, enforced through fake sympathy and drugs, the effort to make everyone comply with the status quo is the problem with our public schools. And that problem is part of the design – if you read back when public schooling was invented, the effort was to create “good citizens” out of freed black slaves and a large influx of immigrants from Ireland, southern Europe, and Asia, whom the powers that be were worried might decide to become rebellious and take power from the ruling elite. “Good citizen” meant someone who could read and write and who followed the rules and was prepared to be a factory drone in the new industrial America.

      So it’s not about left or right. It’s about authoritarian vs. individual freedom, and putting right-wing authoritarians in who want to bring back prayer and corporal punishment will not make things better for our kids or our society.

      — Steve

      • “So it’s not about left or right. It’s about authoritarian vs. individual freedom”

        I know that but it is still fun to mess with people that believe in the false left–right paradigm.

        But ! If we are going to talk schools and politics The Dumbing Down of America — John Dewey viewed the educational system as the key to dumbing down the entire nation, thus paving the way for a socialist “utopia”.

        “The key element of his strategy was to reduce the literacy of the American people, and he did that by replacing the study of phonics – systematic, intensive phonics – with this whole-word quackery, where they teach the kids to read English as if it were Chinese, so they look at the word as a picture, as a symbol, and then they’re supposed to associate that with the word,”

        Thats ‘Common core’

        If anyone is interested here is the search http://www.google.com/search?q=john+dewey+dumbing+down

        • Hmm…. I didn’t really find anything about Dewey supporting whole-word reading. I believe that is a much more recent development. But the entire school system has always been geared toward creating an authoritarian society, whether “Socialist” or “Fascist” in philosophy, even before Dewey. Consider the history of “black schools” and Indian schools – they were clearly designed with cultural re-education in mind. Again, a technique used by both the right and left political wings, though with different justifications. The dysfunction in the educational system most definitely predated Dewey, though I have never been a Dewey fan, as I consider him to be a manipulative authoritarian slimebag.

    • From what I can tell, women are less willing to reach out for help now. Largely because there’s none to be found.

      Misandry and male-bashing are certainly popular nowadays. I guess heterosexual men make a safe group to pick on.

      I’m speaking as a woman who can’t get a date because all the feminuts are running around intimidating and emasculating the manly men.

      Homer Simpson was funny for a while, but now that all the TV dudes are like him only sometimes dumber, I’m throwing away the idiot box.

  2. There is a big gap between “commit suicide” and “attempt suicide”. I think the gender gap might narrow, or go in another direction, if the issue were “attempted suicide”.

    Herd instinct here is a problem as well for these supposedly “self-reliant” men for whom “success”, and I imagine all “success” to be “social”, assumes so much importance.

    Certainly, if you look at the last paragraph, patriarchy is an issue. Would empowering women decrease the amount of male suicides? And, second thought, would it increase the number of female suicides?

    The good news is that, given over population and the environmental wastage that accompanies it, with fewer men in the picture, pestilential humanity is somewhat less of a pest as a result.