Worldwide, suicide — or taking one’s own life — is more prevalent among males than females.

Suicide attempts, however, are more common among females.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), in 2018, more than 48,000 people in the United States died by suicide, and there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts. The AFSP also note that men were 3.56 times more likely to die by suicide than women that year.

Suicide is preventable. With treatment and lifestyle changes, people can begin to feel better. They can learn to manage their symptoms and find joy in life again.

Individuals who are at immediate risk of suicide or serious self-harm should seek help urgently by calling 911 or their local emergency number.

In this article, we discuss male suicide in more detail. We list possible causes and risk factors and explain what to do if someone is at risk of suicide.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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With treatment and lifestyle changes, suicide may be preventable.

There are many possible causes of suicide. Often, a combination of factors plays a role in the onset of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Typically, people who think about or attempt suicide do so because they feel as though they can no longer cope with life. They may feel hopeless, helpless, worthless, or lonely, and they might believe that suicide is their only option.

These feelings may arise as a result of many situations, including:

  • military service
  • the breakdown of a relationship
  • financial or legal issues

According to one study, other causes and triggers for suicidal thoughts and attempts may include:

  • illness
  • physical discomfort
  • conflict with family or friends
  • the illness or death of a family member
  • loneliness

Among males, specifically, one study indicates that significant triggers include:

  • being single
  • retirement
  • unemployment

Men’s health resources

For more research-backed information and resources, visit our dedicated men’s health hub.

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One of the most significant risk factors for suicide is being male. Studies suggest that females tend to attempt suicide more often than males but that males die by suicide more frequently than females.

Researchers have suggested that this may be because males tend to use more lethal methods, such as firearms.

Research indicates that suicide also has associated genetic risk factors.

Other risk factors for suicide include:

  • a personal history of suicide attempts
  • a history of experiencing physical or sexual abuse
  • having a mental health disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • having a medical condition, such as chronic pain or terminal illness, that increases the risk of depression
  • alcohol and drug misuse or abuse
  • having suicidal thoughts and access to means of suicide, such as firearms or medication
  • being gay, bisexual, or transgender and experiencing discrimination or not receiving support from others
  • a family history of mental illness, suicide, or substance abuse
  • the initial use of some antidepressant medications, especially among children and adolescents, although antidepressants are more likely to reduce suicidal risk in the long term

Although having a mental health disorder, such as depression, is a risk factor for suicide, not everyone who attempts suicide will have a known mental illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54% of those who died by suicide between 1999 and 2016 had not received a diagnosis of a mental health condition.

Warning signs of suicide or suicidal thoughts among males include:

  • extreme mood swings
  • talking about suicide, death, or dying
  • an increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • changes to a person’s eating or sleeping habits or other aspects of their usual routine
  • changes in personality, such as severe anxiety or feelings of hopelessness
  • isolating oneself from others
  • engaging in risky behaviors
  • acquiring a firearm or other means to die by suicide
  • giving away money or belongings
  • saying goodbye to people as if they will not see them again

Not everyone will show signs of suicidal thoughts. Even when they do, the signs may be subtle. They can vary significantly from person to person.

Learn more about the hidden signs of depression here.

Suicide is preventable. With immediate help and professional treatment, people can learn to deal with their thoughts and feelings and manage their symptoms. They can begin to find joy and build meaningful lives.

For those at immediate risk

People who are at immediate risk of suicide should call 911 or their local emergency number.

Alternatively, they can contact a suicide hotline. In the U.S., people can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), which is available 24-7.

For those with suicidal thoughts who are not at immediate risk

Individuals who are not at immediate risk of suicide but are having thoughts of taking their own life should talk to someone, such as a:

  • trusted friend or family member
  • doctor
  • mental health professional
  • minister or other spiritual leader

It can also be beneficial to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Resources for those not in the U.S. include Befrienders Worldwide and the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

Other methods of prevention

People who have suicidal thoughts may find that taking the following steps helps lessen these thoughts:

Seeking treatment and sticking to the treatment plan

It is important to seek treatment for mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and substance misuse.

Research indicates that men seek help for mental health disorders far less often than women. This difference may play a role in why men are more likely to die by suicide.

Professional help, however, can alleviate symptoms of depression and reduce the risk of suicide. Males who are experiencing depression or thoughts of suicide should reach out to their doctor or a mental health professional.

Taking things one step at a time

Suicidal thoughts are temporary, but acting on them could be permanent.

With support and treatment, the feelings can pass. Individuals can learn to deal with problems in their life. It is possible to recover from depression and stop having thoughts of suicide.

Building a support network

Support from others plays a valuable role in helping people overcome suicidal thoughts and feelings. Although it can be challenging to talk to others, it could be lifesaving.

According to some research, some of those who have had suicidal thoughts but not acted on them chose not to do so because of the support of friends and family.

It can, therefore, be helpful to build a network of trusted people who can offer support in difficult times. Other potential sources of support include support groups, places of worship, and community resources.

If a loved one is at immediate risk of suicide or has attempted suicide, seek emergency help by phoning 911. Do not leave the person alone until help arrives.

Those who have a loved one who displays signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviors can help by:

  • asking the person if they are thinking about suicide
  • listening to them without minimizing their concerns
  • sharing their own concerns with the person
  • encouraging and supporting them to seek professional help
  • offering to accompany them to treatment
  • trying to remove firearms and other means of suicide from their possession
  • checking in with them regularly to see how they are

Supporting someone at risk of suicide can be extremely draining. It is important that caregivers look after themselves too. They may need to seek support from loved ones, support organizations, and mental health professionals.

It is also important to practice good self-care, which involves eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and spending time engaging in enjoyable activities.

Male suicide is a common cause of death in the U.S. and other countries worldwide. There are many causes and triggers, including depression and feeling overwhelmed by life circumstances.

With support and treatment, suicide is preventable. Individuals who think that they or a loved one is at risk of suicide should seek urgent help.