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Depression and Suicide Rates Among Young Men: What We Can Do

While depression and suicide are tragically widespread problems in America, men tend to act on their suicidal ideas more often than women do. According to statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men are 3.5 times more likely than women to end their lives.

What should you understand about depression and suicide among men, and what can you do to help a loved one who may be struggling with his mental health and suicidal thoughts?

Risk Factors for Depression and Suicide

Some attempts at suicide represent calls for help, though many young men follow unsuccessful first tries with fatal second attempts.

The most prevalent factors for suicide are:

  • Replacing healthy coping mechanisms with substance use
  • Social isolation 
  • Trouble at school or work
  • Difficulty sustaining emotionally fulfilling relationships
  • Unemployment
  • Trauma
  • Mental illness, especially depression

Why Are Men at Higher Risk of Depression and Suicide?

Traditional gender norms reinforce the harmful idea that “real men” suppress their emotions. Parents of sensitive little boys might tell them to toughen up or stop crying, sending the implied message that they should not need to ask for help. When they reach adulthood, these young men might struggle to recognize when they should seek support.  

Men also tend to deny having complex feelings instead of admitting when they’re experiencing depression symptoms such as insomnia, mood swings, chronic sadness and hopelessness. Even when they take positive steps like going to therapy, they might not disclose the full extent of their emotions to their counselor, leading to undiagnosed, untreated depression. Men may gravitate toward drugs and alcohol to self-medicate their mood disorder. Men are also more likely to have access to lethal suicide methods than women.

How to Help Someone With Depression

Emotional support is crucial for people living with depression. However, if you have never struggled with mental health challenges or suicidal ideation, it can be hard to understand why someone might want to end his life. Don’t ignore or make light of any comments that might indicate suicidal thoughts or tendencies. 

If you notice a loved one has lost interest in formerly enjoyable hobbies, seems aimless and pessimistic or is exhibiting any other symptoms of clinical depression, offer to help. 

  • Let him know you’re available to talk whenever he needs it. 
  • Encourage him to seek a therapist or talk to a doctor about his mental health symptoms. 
  • To help him feel less lonely, check in with him often and invite him to come out with you. Find healthy activities you can do together, like going for hikes or bike rides. 
  • Reinforce the idea that it’s OK to need help by sharing stories from others who have gone public with their depression.

Addiction Treatment Tailored to Young Men’s Needs

If you suspect someone close to you is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to get them support from a trained counselor. And, if substance abuse issues are contributing to a worsening addiction and mental health problem, a dual-diagnosis treatment approach can provide the solution. To learn more about recovering in a single-gender environment, contact us at Spearhead Lodge today.