Summary: 60% of men who have committed suicide have no previous history of documented mental health problems, according to a new study.
The majority of American men who die from suicide have no known history of mental health problems, according to a new study by UCLA professor Mark Kaplan and colleagues.
“What is striking about our study is the apparent lack of standard psychiatric markers of suicide among large numbers of men of all ages who die from suicide,” said Kaplan, a professor of social assistance at Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA.
For the study published online in American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Kaplan and his co-authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked recent suicides among men in the United States aged 10 and older. They found that 60% of victims had no documented mental illness.
In addition, men without a history of mental health problems died more often from firearms than those with known mental health problems, and many were found to have alcohol in their systems, the researchers said.
The report highlights the main public health challenge in tackling suicide among men, who are much more likely to die from suicide and less likely to have known mental illnesses than women. In 2019, for example, men accounted for 80 percent of all suicides in the United States, the authors said, and suicide was the eighth leading cause of death among men aged 10 and over.
Kaplan and colleagues reviewed data from the National System for Violent Death Reporting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the last available three-year period from 2016 to 2018, during which more than 70,000 American men died from suicide. More than 42,000 of them had no known mental illness, they found.
The researchers then compared the characteristics of those with and without known mental states throughout their lives in four age groups: adolescents (10–17 years), young adults (18–34), middle-aged adults (35–64), and older. adults (65 and over).
Identifying the various factors that contribute to suicide among these groups is crucial to developing targeted suicide prevention efforts, especially outside of mental health systems, the team stressed.
Among their findings, they found that in all groups, those without known mental illness were less likely to have a history of considering or attempting suicide, or both, than those with such problems.
In particular, young and middle-aged adults without known mental illness are less likely to reveal suicidal ideation, they said.
In addition, men without a history of mental health who have committed suicide in three of the four age groups – adolescents, young adults and middle-aged men – are more likely to experience relationship problems, disputes or other personal crises as accelerating circumstances than in those with previous stories.
Researchers emphasize the importance of focusing on these types of acute situational stressors as part of efforts to prevent suicide and work to discourage the use of alcohol, drugs and weapons during crises – especially for teenagers and young adults, who may be more vulnerable. do not act impulsively.
Kaplan and his colleagues said the findings highlight the potential benefits of strategies to create a protective environment, provide support during stressful transitions and improve coping and problem-solving skills throughout life.
“Men’s suicide prevention initiatives can benefit from holistic approaches that focus on the age-specific stressors reported in this study, in addition to standard psychiatric markers,” the researchers wrote.
“These findings,” Kaplan said, “may begin to change attitudes about non-mental health factors that increase the suicide rate among men.”
For this news on mental health research and suicide
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“Suicide among men throughout life: an analysis of differences according to known mental health” by Catherine A. Fowler et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Suicide among men throughout life: an analysis of differences according to known mental health
Suicide among men is a major public health challenge. In 2019, men accounted for nearly 80% of suicides in the United States, and suicide was the eighth leading cause of death for men ≥10 years of age. Men who die by suicide are less likely to have known mental illnesses than women; it is therefore important to identify prevention points outside mental health systems. The purpose of this analysis was to compare the characteristics of suicide among men with and without known mental illness by age group to inform prevention.
Suicides among 4 age groups of men were studied using data for the last 3 years at the time of the analysis (2016-2018) from the National System for Violent Death Reporting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Offenders with and without known mental states were compared in age groups. The analysis was made in August 2021.
Most male suicides did not have any known mental illness. More often, those without known mental illness die from firearms, and many are alcohol-positive. Adolescents, young adults, and middle-aged men without known mental illness were more likely to have relationship problems, disputes, and / or crisis as an accelerating circumstance than those with known mental states.
Acute stressors are more likely to cause suicide in men without known mental illness and are more likely to involve firearms. These findings underscore the importance of mitigating acute situational stressors that could contribute to emotionally reactive / impulsive suicides. Suicide prevention initiatives targeted at men can focus on age-specific predispositions in addition to standard psychiatric markers.