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Male Suicide: We talk about it and yet we do nothing...

Male suicide has been a silent crisis for years now, media outlets, experts, academics, health professionals, and nonprofit organizations have known about this crisis for decades, but what’s being done about it?


According to the World Health Organization, the global age-standardized suicide rate is higher in males (13.7 per 100,000) than females (7.5 per 100,000). This translates to a rate 1.8 times higher for males. That’s almost twice the amount of men ending their own lives compared to women yet despite many people’s attempts to draw awareness toward this, the numbers have not changed.


In fact they keep getting worse…


Male Suicide: We talk about it and yet we do nothing...

In a recent interview, a Scottish researcher by the name of Dr. Susie Bennett has been fighting hard to come up with funding for research that goes deeper into the cause of male suicide. The funding was refused by organization after organization until recently a men’s mental health organization called MANUP? provided the funding needed for such research. 


She was recently in an interview you can see here:



What seems crazy to me, and it’s a sentiment shared by the members of that panel, is that no one had thought to dig deeper in order to try and understand why this is happening until now. Why did nobody ever think to ask questions or investigate further?


Most of the families of the men who took their own lives were left distraught and completely in the dark about why their loved one suddenly decided to end it all. Yet if I may present a hypothesis as to why this has been mostly an ignored issue I would venture to guess it’s a three-part problem.


1. Men Need to Do Better…


Since the dawn of time, societies have agreed that men are expendable (especially young men) due to their inability to produce babies. If half of the men died, humanity would still be able to survive. This is something most people know even on an intuitive level, which is why even when the news reports on a man dying, it doesn’t draw up nearly as much attention as a woman or a child.


Therefore, most people view this issue as something that men themselves need to fix.


As George from “The Tin Men” put it, all the experts already seem to know the answer to male suicide…


Toxic Masculinity. 


Over and over again, every time we hear so-called experts talk about male suicide, and immediately follow it up with the diagnosis of toxic masculinity. Men are killing themselves because the patriarchy taught them to never express their emotions.


Male Suicide: We talk about it and yet we do nothing...

In the end, the advice is always the same: 

Men need to do better, they need to open up and seek help.

Now, who’s hungry?


It’s a very shallow answer to a very complex problem. Do you mean to tell me that hundreds of thousands of men killed themselves for the exact same reason? 

And even if that were true, what’s being done about it?


When it comes to problems faced by men, we don’t rally together to help, we just tell them to do better and move on with our day.


This brings me to the second part of my hypothesis…


2. Male privilege…


Fourth-wave feminism has had a huge influence on the political landscape of the 2020s and one of the main tenets of this fourth wave has been to draw attention to what has been known around the world as male privilege.


Without going into a drawn-out explanation about what the concept of male privilege is, the main idea is that men live life in easy mode by virtue of their sex. Whereas women have to work twice as hard for the same opportunities a man gets.


We could sit here and debate about the validity of that notion, but this paints a very clear picture in the minds of people everywhere.


It creates the perception that men have rigged the game in order to benefit themselves and keep women oppressed. Therefore whatever problems men face aren’t really because of systemic bias but because of their own inadequacies. 


At the same time, this male oppressor and female victim mentality paints all men as villains and women as helpless prey therefore any problems faced by men will always take a backseat to women’s issues. 


I want to be clear here…


I am not saying by any means that we should take focus away from women’s issues, we should continue to strive to make life better for women. What I am saying, is that I believe we are smart enough and capable enough to also focus on men’s issues at the same time.


If nothing else, because it is in our best interest as a species to do so.


And finally the third part of my hypothesis…


3. No one is actually listening…


The diagnosis is always the same. Men need to open up and share what they're feeling.

But if a man who is suicidal were to open up to you, would you listen and take him seriously? 

Or would you tell him to just get over it?


A lot of men have grown up in a world that rewards them as children for expressing emotions like anger and frustration, and then we tell those same boys they are no longer allowed to feel those emotions once they have grown up. Dr. K from “Healthy Gamer GG” explains it very well here:



The first two things coupled with what Dr. K talks about here, it’s easy to see why most men don’t actually have the tools to articulate their emotions. Yet we expect them to have the same emotional literacy as women and to solve their issues the same way as women do, by talking it out.


The problem is, many times these men have no real way of expressing those feelings with words so they either end up being misunderstood or unexpressed. 


But even when a man is capable of expressing his emotions clearly, most of his grievances fall on deaf ears. I experienced this on a very personal level as in 2020 I experienced domestic violence at the hands of my ex-girlfriend and when I spoke up, nobody took it seriously or even made any attempts to check in with me.

Even friends and loved ones treated the entire situation as if I had tripped and scraped my knee. They were sympathetic, but they just expected me to just dust myself off and get over it. And even though I did eventually get let go and moved on, it made me wonder what would have happened to someone who had been in an even worse situation than my own. 


All the experts keep telling men to open up and be vulnerable, yet these same people aren’t really taking their problems seriously either because they perceive them to have some sort of privilege on the virtue of their sex, or because they perceive their problems to be less important than women’s or any other group’s.


Even while I was doing research for this article, I asked Google’s AI generator Gemini about male suicide rates and it made a point to highlight this:


“Discuss the stigma surrounding men seeking help for mental health issues.

Explore traditional masculinity and how it discourages open communication about emotions.”


What’s the way out?


As you may know, I don’t like to present problems with no possible solutions. So here is what I believe could be a way in which we can start to slow down the rate of male suicide around the world.


I think it’s clear we can’t rely on institutions coming to the aid of suicidal men, so like any grassroots movement, it needs to start with the individuals who care about this issue enough to do something about it.


We need to be vocal. We need to start speaking up for men’s voices and take their problems seriously. We also need to create male spaces that open up dialogue and provide actual solutions and support to these men.


Such an organization is MANUP? in the UK, where a lot is being done to try and address this growing epidemic. Visit their website to seek help or donate to their cause.


Also in an effort to do just that, and not just for suicidal men but for all men, I’ve created an online community that offers men support, tools, strategies, and the space to fully express their problems, find new meaning, and most importantly, find hope. Click here to join, as we try to build men up in a time where there don’t seem to be many options.


Most importantly… 


If you find this helpful, share it with a friend or a loved one, and make sure that you reach out to the men in your life. It could be your father, brother, son, neighbor, coworker, or teacher. Let them know that someone cares.


Master your destiny

And make this an amazing day.

 

Yamil Senior

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