Masculinities and suicide - Swami et al. - 2008 - Article

Most psychological explanations for men's higher suicide mortality are unsatisfactory. The construction of 'masculinity' is one of the most important factors influencing the way in which suicide is discussed and contemplated by men. '

Most psychological explanations for men's higher suicide mortality are unsatisfactory. The construction of 'masculinity' is one of the most important factors influencing the way in which suicide is discussed and contemplated by men. 'Role containers' means the notion of gender as singular female or male "personalities' or 'schémas'. On the other hand, social constructionist and post-structuralist theorists propose that gender is something that is repeatedly and constantly 'performed' or 'expressed'. If all behaviors are an expression of gender, expressing 'masculinity' puts men at higher risk for suicidal behaviors compared with women expressing 'femininity'. An important difference in contemplated suicide between women and men relates to their method of choice. Because society stigmatizes suicidal behavior, surviving a suicidal act is more likely to be perceived as something inappropriate for men. Furthermore, men are less likely to search for help for mental health conditions and emotional problems. For example, the association between depression and femininity may provide men with motivation to hide their depression from others. Men are less likely to search to create a large, supportive social network. For men, marriage acts as an important protective factor. Any personal setback or traumatic event is likely to have a more damaging effect on the psychological well-being of men. Moreover, men are more sensitive to negative changes in their socio-economic and employment status. Contradictory evidence suggests that higher masculinity scores are related to lower suicidal ideation. The reason is because higher scores are associated with self-mastery. Psychologists need to focus on thorough investigations of gender differences in health-related behaviors and thoughts. This will help health care practitioners in tailoring suicide prevention strategies specifically for men and women. 

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