January 9, 2017

Suicide Prevention for Men in the Middle Years

New resource offers support for reducing suicide rate for men aged 35 to 64.

Forty percent of all people who die by suicide in the United States are men between the ages of 35 and 64. It’s a staggering number, especially considering that this demographic only represents 19 percent of the nation’s total population.

What’s especially troubling, says EDC’s Marc Posner, is that an increase in suicides among this group has helped to drive the nation’s growing suicide rate since 1999.

“Suicide prevention programs need help in addressing the needs of men in the middle years,” says Posner. “The suicide rate in the United States cannot be lowered unless we reduce suicide among this population.”

Preventing Suicide among Men in the Middle Years is a new resource from EDC’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center to help state and community organizations reduce the number of deaths by suicide among men in the middle years. According to the report, coauthored by Posner, cultural expectations about masculine identity—such as identifying as the breadwinner in a family, concealing emotions, and being independent—coupled with the lower rates of seeking behavioral health care among men as opposed to women may amplify risk factors for suicide among middle-aged men.

The report aims to help state and community suicide prevention programs develop programs that better address the needs of middle-aged men at risk of suicide. Among the recommendations for state and community suicide prevention programs are the following:

  • Develop and implement suicide prevention activities that strengthen protective factors for men in the middle years.
  • Collaborate with crisis centers to educate staff about suicide risk among this group.
  • Work with the media to develop campaigns that teach men how to recognize and get help for suicide risk.
  • Improve referral and support services for men having financial, legal, or relationship problems and who may be at risk of suicide.

“The suicide prevention needs of this group have been ignored for too long, to some devastating consequences,” says Posner. “This report lays out a road map for saving lives.”