Why men are more likely to die by suicide and how to help someone at risk
Joy Pavelich was a single mother to three boys she describes as really, really tough.
“They were hockey players and mixed martial arts fighters,” the Calgary mother said.
It’s why what happened on August 4th, 2013 came as such a shock. That was the day Pavelich’s middle son, Eric died by suicide. He was just 20-years-old.
“In hindsight, I think he’d become a master at hiding (he was struggling) because he didn’t like to bother anyone. He didn’t want anyone to know that he wasn’t doing well.”
According to Jerilyn Dressler, Executive Director at Calgary’s Distress Centre, men are more likely to die by suicide and less likely to reach out for help.
“At Distress Centre, see a 60-40 split, where men are about ten per cent less likely to reach out for support and talk to us about what’s happening for them in their lives.”
Canada-wide statistics show men are three-times more likely to die by suicide compared to women. In 2013, there were 4054 suicide deaths, 3041 by men.
“A lot of the factors are cultural; men are stoic, men are strong,” said Maura Grunau, the Executive Director at the Calgary-based Centre for Suicide Prevention. “They feel like they need to be the provider, the protector so often if men end up in situations when things come crashing down, they’re isolated but they feel compelled to maintain their stoicism and strength.”
In addition to being less likely to ask for help, Grunau says men are also more likely to choose more lethal means for suicide so there are often no failed attempts, no second chances. It’s why, she says it’s so important that loved ones know the warning signs for suicide and realize that depression in men can appear very different from the way it does for women.
“You’re looking for changes but often towards aggression, hostility, an increase in risky behaviour and substance misuse.”
Grunau says it’s critical for loved ones to be direct with anyone they suspect is at risk for suicide.
“Ask them directly, ‘Are you considering suicide?’ — and remember you don’t have to solve it. You can’t solve it — it’s bigger than you are anyways. Don’t panic — just listen and then, seek help.”
You can find the number to a crisis centre in your area, here.
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