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Male Suicidality

47,511 individuals completed suicide in 2019. Of these statistics, there is a great significance around the percentage of men who are completing suicide in the United States.


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) hits hard with the following findings regarding suicidality in the United States—

  • In 2019, men died by suicide 3.63x more often than women.

  • On average, there are 130 suicides per day.

  • White males accounted for 69.38% of suicide deaths in 2019

47,511 individuals completed suicide in 2019. Of these statistics, there is a great significance around the percentage of men who are completing suicide in the United States.

Recently, I was watching a video surrounding a ‘male crisis’ in Australia. They touched on this similar significance of males completing suicide, pointing to it being a major mental health issue in the country. To touch on the similarity in findings, notes, “Deaths by suicide in Australia occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females.” Without touching on various statistics from multiple countries, I want to touch on my initial reaction to these findings here.

Working with clients who have experience suicidality, there are times they’ve either planned or attempted, maybe multiple times, to take their own lives. In these instances, a preemptive thought is out of reach, and the individual has decided, “There’s no point in me living anymore.”

This is sad stuff to hear your client bring to you in session, but it’s an experience that I have to understand and validate a sense of where this decision has come from. I oftentimes share the emotion that comes up for me with clients, when I’ve built the safe and secure bond with them as a counselor. This bond sometimes transcends the normalcy of insecurities they’ve faced in previous attachments.

Focusing on those male experiences, I find there are societal, familial, and various cultural pressures to deal with difficulties in life in a specific manner. Some of the sense of normalcy they experience is a message to “stand up and be a man,” “vulnerability is weakness,” and “you have to be the man of the house.” Personally, I find the messages mirror insecure attachments for children growing up.

Whether you’re trying to connect or reach out to your primary caregiver (if that’s mom, dad, grandparent, etc.), we don’t always understand our own emotions or needs. I like to share with clients the analogy of a child falling off a bike for the first time. While their body is physically reacting to the cut on their knee, they’re also experiencing a level of emotion that requires emotional comfort. Without understanding this child could be experiencing sadness, and reaching into comfort after you wrapped the wound, the child can internalize that they might have to face the feelings on their own.

When men receive this message from family, society or culture as a whole, they find themselves in a cycle of distraction. Because we are human beings with emotions that need processing, if we simply try to band-aid the wounds and bottle up the pain, it leads to isolation—which in other perspectives, looks like a man that is struggling to find a solution, turning to his head for answers, becoming overwhelmed or anxious, and isolating himself from this vulnerability. This might look like different cycles to cope with the emotional pain; some men might drink or turn to drugs, others might party or go out all the time, or something even along the lines of focusing more on work or hobbies to deal with it.

Like all human beings, and like the toddler who is struggling to connect his thoughts with his feelings, so that he/she can understand their needs, we need secure attachment and emotional comfort. Like men dealing with this isolation and loneliness in our world, they need a space where they can build awareness around what has impacted their ability to process, versus solely relying on coping through distraction or intense focus on other things.

I have embraced my own experiences with suicidal ideation and insecure attachment, and I have learned to build a passion for counseling by understanding how to have compassion for myself. It is the commitment that we have here—to build that sense of safety and security with oneself—that propels us to help all human beings, including men, find a space to process their own emotional pain. “One heart at a time.”

For the man that could be reading this, and hasn’t felt a sense of continued, consistent, security or safety in your relationships, please let us help you find a way to heal yourself. You have the answers inside of you—sometimes they become locked away, and we can become stuck in parts of ourselves that have learned to shut off and withdraw instead.

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