Health Masculine self-reliance puts men at risk

Masculine self-reliance puts men at risk

Men who strongly identify as self-reliant are much more likely to have thoughts about suicide and self-harm than other men, research has found.

University of Melbourne researchers conducting a large longitudinal study of men set out to discover if there was a link between traditional male values and thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

They found that, out of 11 traits traditionally associated with masculinity, only one – self-reliance – was reflected in a higher incidence of suicidal thoughts.

Others, such as attitudes to work, risk-taking, emotional control, attitudes to status and winning, had no significant correlation.

Professor Jane Pirkis, who co-led the study with Professor Dallas English, says the association with self-reliance endured even after she and her team took into account classic risk factors for suicidal thinking such as depression, stress, substance abuse and not having a partner.

“Self-reliance can be a positive thing, but when it becomes a barrier to seeking help, or results in men blaming themselves, it can make some men vulnerable to self-harm,” Professor Pirkis said.

“Our findings may go some way to explaining what mental health professionals have been encountering for years: that many men are reluctant to seek help and may respond much better to health messages that use language that emphasises taking action and taking control of your health, rather than using words like ‘help’ and ‘therapy’.”

Each year in Australia, 18.5 in every 100,000 men take their own lives – more than three times the rate for women.

Read more about this important study here.  Story credit: University of Melbourne newsroom.

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