September 2020

The Hidden Health Risk for ‘Tough Guys’

In the U.S., men die by suicide at three and a half times the rate women do. And some face an even greater danger than others, new research finds.        

Those who scored high on a scale measuring traditional masculine values were almost two and a half times more likely to die by suicide than those who didn’t. That means they identified more with traits like competitiveness, holding back emotions, and aggression.     

Why? “Manly” men may not seek help for depression or other conditions, believing it signals weakness. Plus, their anger and hostility might make it harder for doctors and others to detect mental health problems.

Why now’s the time to talk

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, suicide rates were rising among men in every age category, from 10 through 74.

Now, experts predict even more mental health problems. Stress, loss, and economic concerns could lead to more feelings of hopelessness. So it’s more important than ever to focus on psychological well-being.

Struggling with suicidal thoughts?

Thoughts of harming yourself or even taking your own life may arise when you don’t see a way out of your pain. But no matter how isolated you feel, you’re not alone. With help, you can feel better.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts:

  • Reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)—is there any time, including a crisis. Friends, family, and your healthcare provider can also offer support.

  • Take your time. Know you don’t have to act on these thoughts. Promise yourself you’ll try another option first.

  • Work with a pro. Psychiatrists, counselors, and other mental health professionals are here to help. There’s no shame in calling on their services.

  • Make a safety plan. Write out steps you can take to protect yourself. Include contact details for friends and crisis hotlines. List healthy coping strategies, such as exercise, a hot shower, meditation, or a coping playlist. Alter your environment by removing ways you could harm yourself.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2020
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