Suicide & Masculinity
Let’s start with The Bad & The Ugly
- 6 Males commit suicide in Australia every day (ABS, 2022).
- 75% of suicides in Australia are Men (ABS, 2022).
- 93% of incarcerated individuals are Men (AIHW, 2023)
- Suicide does not discriminate. Individuals who take their own life are from both the bush and the city, the wealthy and the poor, the old and the young.
- Statistics show that men are less likely to reach out for help in times of vulnerability.
- An estimated 1 in 3 of Australians reported feeling lonely (AIHW, 2021).
- People in rural populations are 2 times more likely to take their life by suicide (AIHW, 2022b).
- Beyond the tragic loss of the person, the impact of suicide deaths are felt by up to 135 people, including family members, work colleagues, friends, first responders at the time of death (Cerel et al, 2019).
Why are Males so heavily represented in suicide and incarceration rates in Australia?
Does ‘Masculinity’ have something to answer for? ………………Or perhaps we need to look closer at ‘TOXIC Masculinity’.
TOXIC Masculinity definition: a set of attitudes and ways of behaving stereotypically associated with/or expected of men, regarded as having a negative impact on men and on society as a whole.
In other words, TOXIC Masculinity describes a set of harmful, male behaviours based on unhealthy ideas of what it means to “Be A Man”.
Toxic masculinity can be damaging to a man’s mental health and well-being, by masking their emotions and finding it difficult to reach out for help.
To break this down even further, we are referring to:
- The desire or expectation to be ‘Tough’………….. both mentally and physically
- Refusing to seek help when struggling (mentally or physically)
- Believing it’s a ‘weakness’ to express your feelings and/or emotions
- Discriminating against others such as being homophobic or anti-feminine
- Taking excessive or unnecessary risks
- Engaging in unhealthy behaviour, like smoking, drinking or drug use
The unfortunate reality is that ‘TOXIC Masculinity’ has a significant influence on how we perceive ourselves as “Men”………and it’s evidently not positive.
The way in which men are shaped by the influences of media, societies expectations, family structures, peers etc. is a powerful determinant of how Masculinity…….or TOXIC Masculinity will influence a man’s feelings, beliefs and behaviours.
It is very healthy to understand these influences and appreciate the impact they can have on an individual, family and society………….and ultimately – to lessen the risk for men.
Healthy Masculinity can offer Men the confidence and empowerment to feel secure while feeling vulnerable. This is extremely important as there are many stressors and life challenges that potentially confront us – this is a part of life! But having awareness, understanding influential factors and identifying how you fit into the scheme of things is a battle half won.
Sometimes, it is hard to work through these negative life experiences alone. Often, our judgement will become clouded when stress is present and a drop in confidence can often occur. Make no mistake, a loss in confidence is a powerful thing………….and a contributing factor to TOXIC Masculinity. Let yourself be cared for – you are only human!
Recognising and accepting vulnerability can be very hard to do – It’s ok to not be ok.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: HELP IS AVAILABLE!!
FamilyCare has a Men’s Worker who can support and offer counselling for men who are willing to receive support. To refer to the Men’s program please contact Central Intake on 1800 161 306.
Other Services available to men – have a look at our ManZone page here
FINAL MESSAGE: There is an abovementioned statistic that is compelling and quite sad in fact:
An estimated 1 in 3 of Australians reported feeling lonely (AIHW, 2021).
Loneliness runs the risk of propagating insecurity within any individual. Insecurity compromises our sense of self. This is not a desirable position for any living being.
If you recognise you are lonely, be honest with yourself, reach out, seek support, take opportunities to socialise, be brave and try different things.
If you recognise someone else who is isolated or lonely, be patient with them, check-in and share your observation or concern, offer them the opportunity of inclusion or support options. Reassure them it is ok to speak with you about how they are feeling (if you are able to offer this). Simply checking in without judgement may very well be the difference between someone doing ok………or not doing ok!
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always.” Robin Williams.