About this Research Topic
Suicide has been identified by the World Health Organisation as a major global health problem with the WHO estimating that at least 800,000 people die by suicide each year. Men are significantly more likely to die from suicide (despite being less likely than women to report experiencing depression), a pattern which is endemic in many parts of the world and has been referred to as a silent epidemic.
Various psychosocial and neurobiological explanations seek to account for the high rate of suicidality in men. Factors such as lack of help-seeking, impulsivity, undiagnosed depression, alcohol and drug use, use of lethal means and greater acquired capability have been offered as explanations for men's high rate of suicide but much remains unknown about the underlying causes and motivations.
A cultural/gender perspective has proven insightful in describing how gendered pressures, cultural beliefs about idealized male characteristics and behaviours, have implications for health practices and suicide. Research (emanating from the editors of this article collection) suggests that men vary in terms of their understanding of and attitudes to mental health based on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age, sexuality and other key factors. In some cultural environments, the expression of particular emotions may be regarded as un-masculine, and this can hinder men in understanding their emotional lives, identifying (and disclosing) distress, and seeking help. Barriers to help-seeking for men include social stigma, the judgement of women and other men, difficulty in communicating and sharing emotional problems and a preference for self-managing health, factors which are associated with suicidal behaviour.
The cultural/gender explanation is supported by the fact that rates of male suicide vary considerably across the world and fluctuate within societies between different groups of men. Men are not a unitary group and attitudes and behaviours fluctuate based on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age, sexuality, urban/rural location and or the intersection of these factors. In this way, models of manhood differ across and within societies and how men define health has important implications for their health practices and for suicidality.
This Frontiers in Sociology Research Topic focuses on men's attitudes and behaviours relating to mental health and the connections between men's mental health challenges and suicide. The aim is to bring together a collection of work relating to these topics from a variety of disciplines and countries with the objective of identifying patterns as well as differences between groups of men. Combining empirical insights about this topic will contribute to academic knowledge, help to dispel misunderstandings about male suicide and will aid prevention and treatment. Attempts at preventing suicide amongst men have had variable success and there is growing evidence that interventions should be underpinned by a masculinities model of mental health care and suicide prevention which is culturally and gender-sensitive and addresses diverse models of manhood.
Keywords: men's health, mental health, wellbeing, suicide, suicidal behaviour, masculinities, help-seeking, men's health equity, health equity
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.