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Review of Literature on Male Suicide Rates

Info: 1736 words (7 pages) Nursing Literature Review
Published: 22nd Apr 2021

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Tagged: suicide

 In the United States, and almost every country, males have higher rates of suicide completion compared to women. Men are considered more susceptible due to the difference of risk factors and how assessment of risk is determined. Public awareness of suicide correlates with the idea that a person who is in danger of suicide is depressed. However, males present different traits that demonstrate risk and typically mimic “extremes of the male gender role” (). The studies I reviewed all emphasized the need for awareness of gender roles and their impact on how health care providers approach treatment. Recognizing that varying populations have different needs includes studying preventative, environmental, societal, risk, and protective factors for all, to provide optimal treat. (meaningful services).

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In Coleman’s study, a contrast between male risk factors and females is made to support his ideas of “The Social Nature of Suicide” (Coleman, 2011). It is explained that males are, “more likely to develop suicidal behavior following major life transitions” such as: loss of job, relationship, or home (Coleman, 2011). The research in this study show that males in nearly every country have higher rates of suicides and specific risk factors like low income, or not having a life partner. He hypothesizes that males are more at risk when dealing with stressors that challenge the traditional male gender role, and because of their likelihood to use impulsive, lethal means, like firearms. Men often don’t reach out for mental health treatment and are less likely to be depressed when completing suicide. The study concludes that high masculinity ideals and failure to meet expectations can escalate risk for suicide in males. There is a concern with males not reaching out for mental health services and with healthcare services not having proper training to identify suicide risk.

 The next journal goes on to discuss how societal masculinity impacts rates of male suicide in Britain, and what needs to be considered to find a solution. It’s questioned whether masculinity is a cultural phenomenon or if it’s due to biological factors. Jones goes into further details about how “the rules of masculinity” are engrained at a young age and how they prevent males from talking about feelings, mental health, and asking for help, especially with other male peers (Jones, 2016). A solution presented for this social issue is to educate and challenge stereotypes about male gender and mental health.

Another article written by Bilsker and White, discusses male suicide as a major public health issue, due to a lack of research and public awareness. This “silent epidemic” is related to the differences in suicidal behaviors among men and women. Men are more likely to complete suicide due to disinhibition, lethal actions, and less hesitation. The issue is increasingly alarming as men are less likely to seek help, or be screened for certain risk factors that are observed in men. Also there is not a male specific assessment in primary care and no research to identify preventative factors, or whether “gender specific approaches” should be utilized (Bilsker, 2016). This article focuses on the need for additional research and appropriate suicide assessment, in order to implement preventative techniques, and spread awareness.

The final article I chose reinforces the previous studies, but focuses on male veteran suicide. It compares the general population to veterans, saying they are twice as likely to die from suicide. More specifically male veterans are increasingly vulnerable in completing suicide, rather than dying from external factors or diseases (Kaplan, 2007). The likelihood for veterans to become functionally impaired in war makes them a vulnerable population because it goes against the male gender role of being independent and a provider, ultimately putting them at higher risk for suicide. This study called for “clinical and community interventions” to prevent suicide in veterans, especially after Afghanistan and Iraq wars (Kaplan, 2007).

Throughout the semester, how services should be provided, and why has been defined. When dealing with different client populations, there may be a need to shift in how to implement services and techniques. Effective health and human service providers should be able to empathize, and recognize the need to switch perspectives when working with various client populations. In the text, “Theory, Practice, and Trends in Human Services: an introduction” a theory referred to as gender aware helping explains why there should be a difference in approaches for men and women. Once properly educated, the provider should consider the influence of gender roles. Services to men should be provided with patience, validation, and encouragement to form healthy male relationships. (Neukrug, 2013).

However, in as shown in the summarized articles, males are less likely to seek mental health treatment due to masculinity ideals. Jones called for a destigmatization of the masculine gender role, and the implication that has on reaching out for help (Jones, 2016). The male gender role often is associated with the ideal of being strong. It’s hard for anyone to be strong during times of crisis or stress, which Coleman notes is a risk factor for males (Coleman, 2011). This norm of masculinity encourages males to be self-reliant and can cloud ability to find solutions to problems and can result in engaging in self-harming behaviors. Coleman explains, “male pattern suicidality also includes impulsive attempts with lethal means, often while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.” to show how male gender roles translate to different risk factors (Coleman, 2011). Also, in order to avoid looking weak males may not seek of professional help. Males not meeting societies standards can result in a feeling of failure, which relates to Baumeister’s Escape Theory of suicide that Coleman summarized in his study. This theory extends risk factors for suicide past sole depression and explains why self-perceived failure can limit of ability to think clearly, and use suicide as a means of escape from view of self (Coleman, 2011).

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Not only is it important for health and human service to be aware of gender roles but for males. To implement community change various steps need to be taken, specifically collaborating with all community members (Neukrug, 2013). In Jones’s journal, he calls for awareness by normalizing mental health services for men and advertising services for men as well. This is essential for community members to properly recognize who is at risk for suicide and to address the male suicide rate.

Lastly, this social problem calls for a reconstruction of how males are assessed for suicide risk. A crucial aspect of assessment is validity of tests, and often suicide risk is related to depression (Neukrug, 2013). Therefore, giving a depression assessment to a male may result in an unreliable result and not present the client as being at risk. Males may not be depressed or show risk factors that demonstrate high masculinity. Coleman describes this as, “The emphasis on action, impulsivity, and the acceptability of anger are a part of the social norm of masculinity that sets the context for male suicide.” (Coleman, 2011). This explains why not giving proper assessment or being informed on gender differences could complicate giving necessary help. In addition to the competency of assessment, continuing education and training is important for health and human service providers. In this field those providing help should be willing to learn new techniques and stay updated on research to benefits their clients.

All in all, male suicide is a social issue that is far too overlooked and continues to affect men in a multitude of countries. These studies call for research of relevant evaluation techniques to address how male gender roles impact increased rates of suicide and on how to prevent self-endangering behavior. Prioritizing and recognizing that different actions may be needed to protect, prevent, and respond to men’s suicide risk is needed among health and human services field.



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Suicide has been at an all-time high in recent years. It is reported that there is 1 billion successful suicides a year. Per year there are 14.5 deaths for every 100,000 persons, that is equivalent to one death every 40 seconds due to suicide.

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