There is a presumption that the 80% male suicide rate is a indicator of mens inability to deal with psychological illness or their willingness to seek help. However I believe there are real physical causes for the inflated male suicide rate and until these are dealt with any attempt to change the trend will be akin to attempting to cure world hunger with a packet of biscuits.
I would also state there are barriers to treatment for men that are not faced by women and when a woman comes forward for help, the medical system hands her off and works in conjunction with a social worker that will get her moved to a place of safety or housed in a appropriate manor. This assistance is not provided for men and what they can expect is counselling sessions, then a pat on the head and sent home, even if they do not have a home.
Groups of men with a increased risk of suicide
Ex Service Personel
We loose more veterans to suicide than we loose fighting the war.
Say a young man of 17 joins the Army, serves 10 years and is deployed on multiple active service tours. His lived experience is communal living where he lives with his friends and grows close bonds. In a large base, whatever he is interested in, from stamp collecting to hot air ballooning, there will be someone close by with the same interests. When he returns home after ten years these bonds are cut suddenly. His friends from school have moved on with their lives and he no longer fits in. Along with this isolation there is another problem. As a former solider he is expected to be better able to “look after himself” than civilians. However this is not the case. His army training taught him to deal with physical hardship, it did nothing for his ability to live in civilian life. As part of a company, 130 men went to the mess hall at chow time, he followed the herd. Cut off from the herd and facing paying rent and food bills for the first time is problematic. This is before you consider most veterans have some level of PTSD. The only social activity from his old life readily available is alcohol, the downward spiral in cases like this is more of a probability than a possibility.
There is another scenario. Due to military resources being stretched many soldiers are serving tours in war zones in close proximity. These long periods away can have a effect on his wife. Most wives are there to support their husband when he returns. However some have moved on, and he returns to a empty house and no access to his children.
I believe the forces should provide supported living for all veterans that have served 7 years or more to enable these men to go through this transition together and become productive members of society.
For more information see #22aday
Victims of Domestic Abuse
At least 1 in 3 victims of domestic abuse are male. The stark choice these man face is stay for continued abuse, leave your children with your abuser and run. We know abusive people abuse who is available to them, so your children are next. If the man works and there is a family home with a mortgage this must be maintained. Funding two homes is beyond most people and with the absence of shelters he is now homeless. The ex abuser is now legally free to pursue a new relationship and move that man into your home, while you pay for the upkeep and live on the streets, while working a full time job. The third choice is suicide.
For more information see whiteribbon.org
Divorce and Family Court
Divorce Law is set up so that two reasonable people can devolve a relationship in a manner that means both are capable of moving forward with their lives. However where the woman is not reasonable she can call upon the family court to remove his money in the form of child support and alimony/spousal allowance. She can also withhold access to his children.
To put this in perspective, consider Robin Williams. Given that Robin was a successful actor one would have thought he could afford a divorce, and a legal team capable of getting him a fair deal. Robin committed suicide because he had two ex wives, each claiming half of everything he owned, essentially leaving him with nothing. Men going through family court and custody battles know that seeking help with their mental health will have a negative affect on their ability to gain contact with their children. Perversely, a woman claiming the ex husband trying to gain access will increase her ability to gain total custody and restraining orders.
Suicide is often said to be a permanent solution to a short term problem. However if you had a two year old child that you had no access to and the child support system was rendering you homeless, you are looking down the barrel of another 16 years on the streets before you can move forward. That is not a temporary situation.
Given these factors the surprise is not how many men choose to check out, but how many decide to continue the existence.
If there are real solutions to these real world problems I believe the suicide rate would plummet. At this stage we could then see the scope of the problem and work on mental health problems, until then it is futile.