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Suicide and the gender paradox

Posted at 4:34 PM, Sep 15, 2023

September is National Suicide Prevention Month

In our society, men may feel like they must be strong or at least appear to be strong and stoic, possibly not reaching out for help when it comes to mental health.

This may be part of the problem when it comes to the gender paradox and suicide.

According to experts, in Utah four times as many men die by suicide than women.

“I think it’s helping men see that it’s taking charge of your overall health, and it’s not something’s wrong with you,” said Andree Miceli, Director of Behavioral Health for Regence BlueCross BlueShield.

Miceli says there is a dramatic difference between in the suicide rates between men and women in Utah.

“They don’t know how to cope and it’s because I don’t think we focus on teaching those coping skills and it’s not something we’re born knowing.”

She says men often see stress as external, piling on, while women see it more internally and will typically seek help, and she says it starts young.

“If we’re not teaching kids at a young age how to take care of their feelings, acknowledge their feelings, say if they’re not feeling okay, that it’s okay not to be okay. We have to instill that in our kids," said Miceli.

The last two years in Utah, 80 percent of suicide deaths were men, with the highest rates in men over the age of 75.

“Loneliness and with the older age they may be alone if a spouse has passed away. So loneliness just exacerbates the depression,” said Miceli.

Watching out for behavioral changes and encouraging us to embrace the awkward and have those tough conversations with friends and family that may be uncomfortable.

“It really is asking ‘are you ok’? That simple thing. And even if a person isn’t ready to say ‘no I’m not’, what you’ve done is shown them you’re available when they are ready, they can take that step,” said Miceli.

Remember, you can reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week across the United States.