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Men and Suicide Fact Sheet

Middle-aged men (40 to 60) die by suicide more than anyone, including young people and women (Statistics Canada, 2019). Men are often socialized not to talk about their emotions. As a result, men as a group may mask their stress and deal with emotional pain through harmful behaviours and actions, and sometimes suicide, instead of seeking help (Ogrodniczuk & Oliffe, 2011).

Warning signs

Any significant change in behaviour or mood is a warning sign that someone may be thinking about suicide. For example:

  • Losing interest in a previously enjoyed hobby or activity
  • Disconnecting from friends or family (not calling as much, not going out)
  • Increased alcohol and/or drug use
  • Higher levels of irritability or anger
  • More risk taking with ambivalence about the consequences
  • Denying or not experiencing feelings and emotions
  • Making off hand or uncharacteristic comments of hopelessness or expressing feelings of being a burden to others
  • Talking about wanting to die or taking their own life
  • Looking for a way to take their own life or already having a plan (American Association of Suicidology, 2018

What can reduce risk?
Factors that can build resiliency in men:

  • Tendency to look for support when needed. Men who seek help for overwhelming emotions are more likely to get it before they consider suicide.
  • Comfort with showing and expressing emotion. Men who embrace their emotions and the importance of sharing them with others are better able to cope, as they are more likely to deal with them before they become overwhelming.
  • Positive, supportive, and close relationships with family, friends, coworkers, etc. Supportive people can be asked for help and offer it; they provide a safety net when a man is struggling. (Houle et al., 2008; American Psychological Association, 2005).

What can men do to stay mentally healthy?

  1. Maintain strong social connections by prioritizing friendships and good relationships with loves ones and by participating in peer support programs or other social activities.
  2. Show and express your emotions and seek help when you need it by letting those around you know you’re struggling and by asking for help or connecting with workplace or community resources.
  3. Pay attention to your friends and, if you’re worried about someone, start a conversation. Ask questions and listen to what they’re saying. Let them know you’re there for them, and encourage them to reach out to others.

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