In a new study, researchers found that men who try to tough may be more prone to suicide.
The research was conducted by a team at the National Alliance on Mental Illness elsewhere.
It has long been known that men are more likely than women to end their own lives.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, the suicide death rate among men is about 3.5 times that of women.
The statistics raise the question of whether traditional norms about masculinity could play some role.
It makes sense that those expectations of “manly” men—which include denying emotions, not reaching out for help, and aggressiveness—could contribute to suicide risk.
In the study, the team used data from a health study that began tracking over 20,700 U.S. teenagers back in 1995. By 2014, 22 of them had died by suicide—all but one of whom were men.
The researchers found that young men who’d scored in the “high traditional masculinity” range were 2.4 times more likely to die by suicide than other men.
That measure was based on traits like “not crying,” a resistance to being “emotional” or “moody,” staying physically fit, and “risk-taking.”
The team says men who were high in traditional masculinity were also more likely in their youth to have ever used a weapon, been expelled from school or in serious fights, or run away from home.
They were also more likely than other men to have a family member who’d died by suicide. And all of those factors, in turn, were related to a higher risk of suicide.
That suggests beliefs about masculine norms could be part of what underlies those other risk factors for suicide.
So if those beliefs could be addressed, it might be possible to lower men’s suicide risk.
The lead author of the study is researcher Daniel Coleman.
The study is published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
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