Men are taught to fight their way out of their problems. When men turn that violence on themselves, the result is both epic and tragic.
According to CDC data men commit suicide at almost four times the rate of women. When I’ve talked about this before: a lot of people seem content with just saying that this disparity is a result of men choosing more violent means than women. While this is true (if you look at that CDC link I gave above it also shows that men are most likely to use guns while women are most likely to use poison) I think it might be worth asking why that is the case.
Why do men tend to choose more violent methods of suicide than women?
I think one possible answer is right in front of us.
How many posts and conversations and debates and arguments (and flame fights) have gone down here at Good Men Project alone over the idea that men embrace a culture of violence? The notions that might actually is right and the violence is indeed the answer? That (boys and) men are raised to believe and think that force is the way to get what one wants and needs?
Well most of those discussions are usually in the scope of what men do to others. Is it hard to think that such men would not simply turn those feelings of force and violence in on themselves?
For a long time boys have been told that when being bullied they need to fight back. The lesson being that we can solve our problems with violence. A kid in gym class hitting you and the teachers won’t help? Hit them back. Getting teased in the hallway and no one is coming to your aid? Beat up the teaser. Someone trying to embarrass you in public and none will come to your defense? Prove how tough you are by fighting.
It’s pretty common thought that when a person commits suicide (or is thinking about it) they are at a point where they feel they have done all they can to change the circumstances in their life that brought them to that point in the first place. All options exhausted, all avenues traveled, all resources for help and support tapped.
When the choice is made those same mechanisms that said to hit the person that hit first and to fight the teaser kick get applied. Believing the violence is the answer has just gone from an external application ,destroy the person that is threatening you, to an internal application, destroy yourself. You might think that “destroy yourself” may be a bit extreme but when those boys were learning the lessons to fight back was restraint being taught along side it?
In closing please allow me to say that I am not presenting this as the absolute definitive reason for why men tend to choose more violent methods of suicide than women. Hell, I’m this might not even be “an” answer.
But I do know that the question of why needs to be discussed, worked on, and ultimately treated.
In Canada and the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Read more on Suicide.
Kids playing tough image courtesy of Shutterstock