Suicide among males - An XY collection

Coleman, Traditional Masculinity as a Risk Factor 2015
Pirkis, Masculinity and suicidal thinking 2017
Scourfield, Why might men be more at risk - Abstract
King, Expressions of masculinity and associations with suicidal ideation 2020 - Abstract

Males in high-income countries have rates of completed suicide several times those of females. Male suicide is shaped in part by constructions of masculinity, as a range of studies have documented. Here, we have collected key studies and reports on male suicide, in full text (PDF) below. To highlight some of these studies;

  • Masculinity – the way men are brought up to behave and the roles and behaviours expected of them – contributes to suicide in men (Whyllie et al.).
  • Traditional masculinity is an important predictor of suicidal thoughts in males. In a US cross-sectional study of 2,431 young adults, “Traditional masculinity was associated with suicidal ideation, second only in strength to depression, including when controlling for other risk factors” (Coleman, 2015).
  • Another study finds that men who endorse traditional masculinity, especially self-reliance, are more likely to have suicidal thoughts (Pirkis et al. 2017). In an Australian study among 13,884 men, after controlling for other key predictors of suicidal thinking, one characteristic of dominant masculinity – self-reliance – stood out as a risk factor for suicidal thinking.
  • A study among young Irish men found they experienced high levels of emotional pain but had problems identifying symptoms and disclosing distress. Prevailing norms of masculinity discouraged disclosing distress and seeking help. So they opted for suicide (Cleary, 2012).
  • In an Australian survey of 1,000 men aged 18 to 30, the ‘Man Box’ survey, young men with higher levels of conformity to stereotypical masculine norms were twice as likely as other young men to have considered suicide. They were more likely to report symptoms associated with poor mental health such as reporting ‘feeling down, depresssed, or hopeless’, and twice as likely to report having thoughts of suicide in the past two weeks (The Men’s Project & Flood, 2018, pp. 26-27).
  • A study among 829 Australian boys and young men found that conforming to some masculine norms is bad for the mental health of some adolescent males, placing them at greater risk of suicidal ideation. Higher conformity to norm of self-reliance was associated with suicidal thoughts (King et al., 2020).
  • A national US study found that males with ‘high traditional masculinity’ (emotional restriction, competitiveness, aggression, etc.) were 2.4 as likely to die by suicide than non-HTM men. This is the first study to examine the influence of stereotypical masculine norms on actual suicide deaths (Coleman, Feigelman, & Rosen, 2020).

More on sex ratios for suicide: Rates of male suicide are significantly higher than female suicide particularly in high-income countries, but the sex ratio varies substantially across countries in regions. In high-income countries, the ratio of male:female suicide is 3.5, that is, with 3.5 male suicides for every female suicide. But in low- and middle-income countries, the ratio is 1.6 (World Health Organization, 2014, p. 20). The sex ratio for suicide is close to 1:1, or even lower for males than females, in some countries.

The full text pieces are as follows. Also see the academic references listed here: Additions are most welcome.