In high-income countries, three times as many men as women die by suicide, according to a World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source report from 2018.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also cite 2018 data, noting that in that year alone, “Men died by suicide 3.56 [times] more often than women” in the United States.
And Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit, reference data suggesting that more than 6 million men in the U.S. experience symptoms of depression each year, and more than 3 million experience an anxiety disorder.
Despite these staggering figures, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) report that men are less likely than women to have received formal mental health support in the past year.
Why is this the case? Recent research offers some explanations and proposes ways of remedying the situation.
In their 2018 report, the WHO emphasize that cultural stigma surrounding mental health is one of the chief obstacles to people admitting that they are struggling and seeking help.
And this stigmatization is particularly pronounced in men.
“Described in various media as a ‘silent epidemic’ and a ‘sleeper issue that has crept into the minds of millions,’ with ‘chilling statistics,’ mental illness among men is a public health concern that begs attention.”
Thus begins a study from The University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, Canada, published in 2016 in Canadian Family PhysicianTrusted Source.
Its authors explain that prescriptive, ages-old ideas about gender are likely both part of the cause behind the development of mental health issues in men and the reason why men are put off from seeking professional help.
Another study from Canada — published in Community Mental Health Journal in 2016 — found that, in a national survey of English-speaking Canadians, among 541 respondents with no direct experience of suicidal ideation or depression, more than one-third admitted to holding stigmatizing beliefs about mental health issues in men.
And among this group, male respondents were more likely than females to hold views such as: “I would not vote for a male politician if I knew he had been depressed,” “Men with depression are dangerous,” and “Men with depression could snap out of it if they wanted.”
Among 360 respondents with direct experience of depression or suicidal ideation, more male than female respondents said that they would feel embarrassed about seeking formal treatment for depression.
One contributor who spoke to Medical News Today also pointed out that it is not easy for men to be open with their peers about mental health struggles.The first step in addressing these issues, researchers argue, is enhancing education about mental health. We need to be open to making sure that there is a way for metal health to be addressed.
Depression is common in men. According to the American Psychological Association, an estimated 9 percent of men in the United States have feelings of depression or anxiety each day, and 30.6 percent of men experience a period of depression during their lifetime.
Depression is a mood disorderTrusted Source that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, body, and behavior. Doctors may refer to depression as major depression, major depressive disorder, or clinical depression.
Depression is more commonTrusted Source in women, affecting 10.4 percent of women compared with 5.5 percent of men in the U.S. However, the number of men who die by suicide is four times the number of women.
One of the reasons for this could be that men are less likely to get a diagnosis of depression. Depression is a significant risk factor for suicide.