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The Social Determinants of Male Suicide

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Men’s Issues and Men’s Mental Health

Abstract

Men account for approximately 75% of suicides in the western world, with male suicide rates particularly pronounced in certain groups of men, including: (i) middle-aged men; (ii) men living in rural and remote regions; (iii) White men; (iv) Indigenous men; (v) military veterans; and (vi) men involved in the criminal justice system. The reasons for suicide are complex, and suicide is rarely the result of a single factor. Instead, a combination of proximal and distal factors can interact over time to increase risk. Evidence suggests that some risk factors may be experienced much more intensely in men compared to women. In particular, the research literature indicates three powerful risk factors for male suicide, namely: (i) unemployment; (ii) divorce; and (iii) mental illness and substance use issues. Men experiencing these risk factors frequently face high levels of isolation, social stigma and financial strain leading to a weakening of social integration and connection, and a diminishing sense of meaning and purpose. Of note, male suicide rates have been rising steadily in the last 15 years, with several studies linking this rise to the 2007–2008 Global Financial Crisis and the subsequent Great Recession, which negatively affected many male-dominated industries.

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Whitley, R. (2021). The Social Determinants of Male Suicide. In: Men’s Issues and Men’s Mental Health. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-86320-3_2

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