A Conversation About Men’s Mental Health
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are an estimated 4,000 suicide deaths yearly. Even more alarming is that nearly 75 percent of these deaths – equivalent to 3,000 deaths per year – are males. A trend shows that overall – most of the suicide-related deaths in Canada over the last four decades have been males. With the population ratio of females to males in Canada sitting at a near 1:1, these numbers are concerning.
Suicide is a complex topic and can be the unfortunate result of several factors in any person’s life. However, studies show that males share several increased risk factors regarding suicide and suicidal behaviours or tendencies compared to women.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada states that men are more at risk because they have an unspoken expectation to uphold traditional masculine norms such as toughness and stoicism. Unfortunately, even if males eventually find an environment where this may not be the case, it is so deeply rooted in our culture to make them feel the opposite. Men are additionally more at risk of being socially isolated as a result of divorce, job loss, and an overall aversion to reach out to others due to the existing stigma that surrounds mental health issues in men. Experts say that the only way to correct this is to help reframe masculinity and remove the stigma that surrounds men and their mental well-being, as a society, to allow for more expression, more openness, and more encouragement towards seeking help as a male.
In addition to this, men are more at risk than women of becoming dependent on substances, which can worsen depressive symptoms and increase the risk of suicide. Several peer-reviewed studies have shown that of those 3,000 men we lose in Canada each year, they are far more likely to have large amounts of alcohol or drugs in their system at the time of death.
If you or someone you know may be thinking about suicide, please get in touch with Crisis Services Canada at the links below: