Men Increasingly at Risk of Suicide

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for men — actually, tied for seventh with Alzheimer’s disease — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accounting for only 2.6% of deaths. Without taking gender into account, suicide is 10th. That was the case in 2017, anyway.

Men still commit suicide at more than 3.5 times the rate for women (although women attempt it more often and have been narrowing the gap). More than two-thirds (69.67%) of suicide deaths in 2017 were men.

Suicide rates are increasing overall, as are substance abuse overdose deaths. Although they’re not directly connected, some observers group them as deaths of despair. The novel coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 seems likely to increase these deaths, though it’s too soon to say by how much.

Among the possible triggers for both substance abuse and suicide are:

  • Money troubles. Although wages are beginning to rise, they were static, well below the rate of inflation for decades. Businesses have also relied on fewer workers doing more rather than hiring additional workers. This means the loss of a job can make it difficult to find another, even with a low unemployment rate. COVID-19 has also led to people working fewer hours or losing their jobs entirely.
  • Long hours. Fewer workers means those that remain must work harder and longer. It can lead to irregular hours to cover someone who is ill or on vacation. With the prevalence of smartphone use, emails, and remote work from home computers, workers might always be on call. This could increase fatigue and stress.
  • Health problems. A serious medical diagnosis, especially when there is a lack of adequate health insurance, can drive someone to self-medicate rather than see a physician or miss work. Chronic pain prescription medications can become addictions quickly.
  • Mental health problems. Clinical depression or major depressive disorder, as well as anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and other conditions can lead to despair.
  • Feeling lonely or socially isolated. Men often have fewer social connections than women, which also can lead to despair.

While rehab for men with a substance use disorder won’t necessarily prevent suicide, it should identify any mental health comorbidities that might be contributing to the despair. Ninety percent of people who commit suicide have a mental illness.

With mental illness and substance abuse under control, suicide is less likely.

Sources
cdc.gov – From the CDC: Leading Causes of Death – Males of All Ages and Origins 2017
afsp.org – Suicide Statistics
theatlantic.com – The True Cause of the Opioid Epidemic
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – COVID-19 Reveals Mental Health Crisis Among Healthcare Professionals | Substance Abuse, Depression, and Suicide Rates Rise
shape.com – What Everyone Needs to Know About the Rising U.S. Suicide Rates
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Dual Diagnosis Rehab Centers Providing Upscale Treatment

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