Adult male suicide in the age group of early 20s through the 50s make up the bulk of people who commit suicide and the majority of the number of years of living lost due to completed suicide. As the rate of people who commit suicide has decreased or remained constant for most age groups over the past couple of decades, male suicide rates in the mid-adult years have gone up. There has been quite a bit of research done on suicide rates among adolescents and older adults, but little done on adult men, despite their high rate of those who commit suicide.
Even though there hasn’t been a lot of research done looking into the recent upsurge in male suicide, especially those who commit suicide in midlife, the studies that do exist imply that certain factors that may raise the risk of those in this population who commit suicide are similar to the factors among other age groups and occur in both sexes:
- A mental illness that can be determined from retrospective analysis, especially mood disorders
- Substance use disorders, especially alcohol abuse
- Access to lethal methods of carrying out a suicide
However, these risk factors to commit suicide are likely to be made worse by other risky characteristics more common among male suicide victims:
- Underreporting of mental health problems
- Unwillingness to seek help
- Participation in interpersonal violence
- Distress due to unemployment or financial hardship
- Break-up of an intimate relationship
It is difficult to prevent suicide male suicide because they tend to hide their feelings and symptoms of being depressed. They aren’t inclined to discuss their thoughts of suicide, ask for help or even accept it if it is offered from others. Men tend to hide their pain and their plans and their preparations they are making to commit suicide. Male suicide is a hidden epidemic.
Men who are older, specifically Caucasian men, are disproportionately at higher risk to commit suicide. Figures reported from 2009 reveal that male suicide among older Caucasian males was 30.15 per 100,000. This is nearly three times the death rate among the population at large, who commit suicide at a rate of 11.77 per 100,000.
There are a number of factors that increase the risk among older male suicide and this includes having a mental disorder. Research studies indicate that older adults in general who commit suicide are more likely to have the symptoms associated with mood disorders, especially major depression, then younger adults. Other vital risk factors to commit suicide include having a physical illness and a decline in the ability to function independently. Also a large amount of literature suggests that being disconnected socially does increase the risk of older male suicide.
When suicide occurs in people who are older, late in life, it is substantially different than when younger adults commit suicide. Older adults are more likely to be successful with their first attempt, than are younger adults. This is because older adults are more likely to use extremely lethal means when they commit suicide. Another difference is that older adults are less likely to have discussed their suicidal thoughts or to seek treatment for mental health issues before they commit suicide. What is interesting though is that research indicates that most older adults who commit suicide have been seen by their primary care physician in the prior three months before taking their lives.
Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods in preventing suicide, including male suicide. The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders related to suicide. In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, suicide or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression and suicide prevention that can result in recovery. Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful. Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.