Politics, Psychology, recent

Time to Stop Using Suicide For Political Point-Scoring

The writer and influential feminist Chidera Eggerue caused outrage recently when she callously dismissed the problem of male suicide. In response to a question she had received from an audience member about why “some men have it so hard,” Eggerue wrote in a series of tweets that she didn’t “have time to think about the reasons why the system you created at my expense to benefit you is now choking you. If men are committing suicide because they can’t cry, how’s it my concern?”

Eggerue later apologized for her comments, but not before her tweets had gone viral and triggered a predictable backlash, including from some feminists. The Guardian’s Zoe Williams described Eggerue’s attitude towards men as “anti-feminist, anti-humanist, anti-intimacy, anti-everything I care about.”

This uproar is part of a larger conversation about the gendered nature of suicide. It is well known that men are more likely to die by suicide than women are. The exact figures vary from country to country, but worldwide the suicide rate for men is almost twice as high as that for women. This imbalance is particularly marked in the Western world.

Widespread concern over the risk of suicide in men—particularly young men—has led to the creation of organizations such as the UK-based CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably), a charity that works to reduce the rate of male suicide. Campaigners hope that by encouraging men to talk about their emotions, they can persuade more men to seek help rather than taking their own lives—although there’s no research evidence connecting a lack of openness to suicidality.

Of course, many anti-feminists go much further than calling for extra support services for vulnerable men. Suicide is one of the most important issues in Men’s Rights Activism (MRA), whose adherents insist that the higher suicide rates are evidence that men are an oppressed class. The most extreme MRAs attribute male suicides to the persecution of men by feminists and their allies.

Most commentators neglect the fact that, although men are significantly more likely to die by suicide, women are two to four times more likely to attempt suicide. This paradox is explained by the fact that most suicide attempts fail, and the failure rate varies according to method. Men are more likely to choose violent methods, while women are more likely to take overdoses. Violent methods are more likely to result in death, hence the skew.

This isn’t intended as a “gotcha” to the anti-feminists. Well, it is a bit I suppose—I am tired of hearing people bang on about suicide statistics when they’re ignorant of the facts. But I don’t think this data tells us anything at all about the degree to which men and women are oppressed or mistreated. In fact, I don’t think that suicide statistics shine much light on the political status of any group. 

The fact is that suicide is an exceptionally complicated phenomenon. Some of the risk factors will come as no surprise: depression, addiction, psychosis, physical ill-health, personality disorders, trauma, bereavement, and extreme isolation all increase the likelihood that someone will make an attempt on their life. We don’t need sophisticated data analysis to tell us that people suffering from any of these problems are more likely to be suicidal.

But it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there is a straight line between suffering and suicide. The statistics tell a different story. If there was a simple connection then we would expect the poorest, most war-torn, most authoritarian parts of the world to have the highest suicide rates, but that’s not the case. The highest rates are found in East Asia and the former Soviet Bloc, and the lowest in the Caribbean and the Middle East. Although it’s not uncommon to hear suicide linked to economic inequality, the opposite may in fact be true—more equal countries seem to have higher rates.

Within societies, ethnicity has an effect on suicide rates, but not necessarily in the way you might assume. In the U.S., for instance, Native Americans have a much higher suicide rate than the general population. Native Americans are also poorer than average, often suffer from discrimination, and, historically, have been the victims of oppression, so a higher level of suicide might be expected. But then black Americans suffer from the same disadvantages, and yet have a lower suicide rate than average.

Then there are the really unexpected factors. You might expect suicide rates to rise during wartime, since trauma and bereavement are the inevitable results of conflict. In fact, suicides are often less common during wartime, supposedly because these periods can involve a greater sense of unity and collective purpose, reducing the loneliness of desperate people. Suicide rates consistently increase in Springtime—when I was trained to respond to suicidal callers on a crisis helpline I was told that severely depressed people sometimes find that the arrival of Spring gives them a bit more energy, and they may use that energy to make an attempt on their lives. Obese people seem to be less likely to die by suicide and we don’t really know why—it could be due to hormonal changes that affect impulsivity, although that’s little more than a guess.

The single most effective way of reducing suicides is not better healthcare provision, or community support, or charitable services—although all of these things are important— but removing the means. In the U.K., suicide rates plummeted during the 1960s as domestic gas supplies were changed, making it more difficult for people to kill themselves by putting their heads in the oven. Similarly, gun ownership hugely increases the risk of suicide. When it becomes more difficult for people to kill themselves, they’re more likely to reconsider their decision and seek help.

The writings of French sociologist Émile Durkheim remain influential in the study of suicide. Durkheim’s innovation was to suggest that suicide was the result, not only of an individual’s psychology or life circumstances, but wider social forces. Although later critics have identified significant flaws in his work, this central idea has persisted.

Durkheim created a detailed typology, categorizing suicides based on the reasons behind them. For instance, he suggested losing one’s sense of identity might lead to dislocation, anguish, and ultimately the desire to kill oneself. So being fired, getting divorced, or being displaced by a significant societal upheaval might lead to despair, no matter how fortunate you were before your life was upended. These forms of suicide do not fit neatly into a contemporary social justice model of privilege and oppression. It’s simply not the case that people at the bottom of the intersectional hierarchy are more likely to commit suicide.

Although historically suicide has often been stigmatized and even criminalized, there are some forms that are considered noble. This is particularly true of what Durkheim referred to as “altruistic suicides:” when someone gives up their life for the sake of another. Japan has long carried a reputation for tolerating and even romanticizing suicide—the country is sometimes referred to by the Japanese as a “suicide nation”—and ritualized forms of suicide such as Kamikaze and seppuku have become famous in the West. Japanese rates of suicide are indeed high, although not as high as in some other countries. Plus, it’s worth remembering that Westerners also glorify certain forms of suicide. Think of the Irish Republican hunger strikers, most famously Bobby Sands, who benefitted from an association with religious martyrs. Many celebrities have killed themselves in tragic circumstances and become sanctified by their fans afterwards. The figure of the valiant soldier giving up his life for his country is by no means unique to Japan—it can be found in some form in most cultures, perhaps all.

Like all people, the desperately unhappy are buffeted by social forces that may push them towards suicide or away from it. The romanticizing of some forms of suicide may contribute to this, as can large-scale political and economic events. But when people kill themselves it is always because of a host of factors in combination. It is a mistake to make any simplistic claims about why an individual might have been driven to suicide, still less a whole group of people.

All too often commentary on suicide flattens the complexity of the issue. This is true not only of the discussion around male suicide rates, but also around a host of other phenomena: welfare cuts, social media, and school bullying, to name just a few.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the reporting on the risk of suicide among transgender people. You will often hear that a shockingly high proportion of trans people will attempt suicide at some point in their lives—a figure of 41 percent is often cited. Fortunately, this is not true—such figures are the result of surveys that allow participants to self-select, and are then presented as sacrosanct by researchers and journalists who are sympathetic to the trans cause. Susie Green, CEO of the U.K. charity Mermaids, has made some alarming claims about the suicide risk for trans people, citing attempt rates as high as 48 percent among trans youth receiving treatment from the NHS. Michael Biggs, a sociologist at the University of Oxford, investigated these claims and found them to be misleading.

Nevertheless, it is true that trans people are disproportionately likely to die by suicide, even if the risk is not as high as some campaigners claim. There are a number of factors at play here, one of which may be discrimination. Like lesbian and gay teenagers, young trans people are at risk of being rejected by their families and ostracized by their communities, particularly if they come from extremely conservative backgrounds. As Durkheim observed, being cast out of your social group can lead to a particularly acute form of suffering that might contribute to suicidal inclinations.

There are also other factors that trans activists are less willing to discuss. Trans people are highly likely to suffer from mental ill-health and transitioning does not necessarily help—in fact, giving children puberty blockers may well worsen suicidal feelings. We shouldn’t assume that this psychological distress is wholly the result of discrimination. It’s important to remember that people choose to transition for a variety of reasons, and that people with existing mental health problems may be more likely to transition, hoping that a radical identity change might be the solution to their unhappiness. We also know that autistic people are hugely over-represented among trans teenagers—one study found that 35 percent of young people being treated for gender dysphoria met the criteria for moderate to severe autism, and autistic people have a suicide rate eight times higher than the general population.

“Would you rather have a living daughter than a dead son?” is a question often used by trans activists of parents who are reluctant to see their children undergo irreversible medical procedures. The belief that, without access to medical transition, trans people are certain to kill themselves is an important driving force in the rush towards uncritical acceptance of activist demands.

Not only does this approach ignore the data, it is actively harmful. Telling trans people that, without immediate medical treatment, they will almost certainly be driven to suicide makes that outcome more likely. We have known for a long time that suicide is contagious, particularly among the young. The so-called “Werther effect” is named for the protagonist in Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, a novel which reputedly inspired a wave of copycat suicides. Research suggests that as many as five percent of youth suicides may be influenced by contagion. It is for this reason that the Samaritans publish media guidelines for reporting on suicide. Crucially, they insist that the issue should never be over simplified, since “it is important not to brush over the complex realities.” Irresponsible discussion of suicide risks pushing vulnerable people towards ending their lives.

There is a widespread tendency to view suicide through a political lens. The higher the suicide rate in the group you’re advocating for, the greater your moral clout. Of course, politics can sometimes be a part of the picture, but it’s dangerous to suggest that it is the only factor. People who die by suicide are all unhappy, but not all unhappy people die by suicide. This is a complex issue that merits a sensitive and reasoned approach. There is no room for political point scoring.


Louise Perry is a freelance writer based on Oxford, U.K.

111 Comments

  1. ... says

    Maybe I lose something in the translation, but this piece seems to me just a big “who cares if they (oppressor!) kill themselves”.

    • Bob Again says

      But in fact it is explicitly a response AGAINST that kind of thinking. Did you even read it?

      • ... says

        I reread it and I don’t change my mind but maybe I’m wrong and as I said, maybe this is one of those cases in which we talk about “lost in translation”.
        Ah I had to premise, my English is very bad.

        • Bob Again says

          Yes, well if you are reading articles written in a language you don’t understand very well, I would imagine there’s a high probability of misunderstanding them.

      • Black Knight Fool says

        CALM is a feminist organization exploiting men’s mental health for politics.

        MRAs not speak in terms of oppressed classes. This was a queer feminist.

    • Black Knight Fool says

      I knew something was wrong when they said MRAs claims men are in “oppressed class.” They speak in terms of issues not group oppressions.

      CALM is a feminist organization exploiting men suicide and general mental health for politics. It’s just an anti-masculinity anti-heteronormative to have queer cult.

      https://youtu.be/wPgoyK_5KV0

  2. “Eggerue wrote in a series of tweets …”

    Before social media it was much harder to see into the hearts of truly hateful people.

    I suppose we can be grateful for this much today.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Morgan Foster

      It puts the lie to the posturing that is still sometimes made that the radfems only want fairness and equity and mutual respect and love. What they want is the enslavement of men that is proportionate to the mostly imaginary enslavement of women that they like to suppose they have endured. Envy is the motivator, revenge is the goal. But they will still need to sit down to pee.

    • Sydney says

      @Morgan Foster

      True. Reminds me of how clever, Harvard-educated hater Sarah Jeong was outed/outed herself (via her psychotic, ongoing Twitter hate), and yet was still hired onto the ‘New York Times’ editorial board.

      • Ann says

        Please don’t refer to people like Sarah Jeong as psychotic. Psychosis is an illness. It’s a painful one to have to live with and it is deeply misunderstood. She is just your run of the mill hateful person.
        Your friendly neighborhood schizophrenic.

        • MMS says

          @Ann – True Enough (I for one will not do so in the future).

  3. Rose Clark says

    Louise, this is the best article I’ve ever read on Quillette. Thank you for your contribution.

    • Thylacine says

      The author points out many complications to the suicide story, but one complication she fails to note is that many activities that result in death are not classified as suicide even though they are suicidal. Death by cop is an example. Engaging in extremely risky behaviours like street racing and potent drug use are others. People only engage in these activities if they place a low value on their own lives. Just as murder has degrees – 1st degree, 2nd degree, manslaughter – so does suicide. If you add all of the cases of 2nd degree suicides and self-slaughter to the recognized suicides, the ratio of male to female deaths will increase dramatically.

      • Black Knight Fool says

        Because men are not born with inherent value they have to take risks to have any. The risky behaviour is a product of discontent this with life

  4. Suicide is complicated and therefore the higher rate for men compared to women cannot be simply used as an indicator of male disadvantage or oppression but the lack of intereste or action by government or health service to investigate or seek to change this can be taken as a clear indication of the relative worth society places on male and female lifes. Confirmation can be seen in the total lack of concern about a male life expectancy disadvanatage coupled with far greater spending on female healthcare. There are endless news reports which treat male deaths as insignificant compared to womens to emphasis the point. All men know that our lifes are valued less than women’s and thislesson is learned very young.

    A possible explanation for the extremely well know fact that women attempt to commit suicide much more often than men but suceeed much less frequently is that most women’s attempts are not intended to suceed but as a means to gain attention and assistance. Men are much less likely to do this because they are much less likely to receive assistance or support. Endless social experiments have documented that generally women will recieve help and support from strangers and men generally will not. Blaming male stoicism for men’s higher suicide rate is mistaken because it is adaptive and protective and a necessary result of the way men are treated differently from women and given far less support. men in general need to be stoical and self reliant.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @AJ

      Men do things to get them done. Women do things as performance. (Sometimes)

      • GrumpyBear says

        Men do things to get them done. Women do things as performance. (Sometimes)

        No, if women are not demonstrating equal or better success at suicide, it simply provides further proof of the oppressive white male patriarchy preventing women from achieving their goals.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @GrumpyBear

          Ah, yes thanks. The Narrative has everything covered.

    • Kim D. says

      Also, men are more likely to have lethal means, for example, policemen have guns, and most police are still men. Men own guns at a higher rate than women. Three quarters of gun deaths in Canada are due to suicide. The suicide rate for women is high in many professions such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians, who have the means available. Men have higher rates of aggression due to testosterone and are more likely to carry through with the act, as well as more likely to have the means.

    • Reb says

      Some of the higher attempts may be from the same people reattempting since they failed.

  5. markbul says

    ” Trans people are highly likely to suffer from mental ill-health …”

    What is delusion if not mental ill-health? If I thought I was Jesus of Nazareth, you wouldn’t expect my life to be a bed of roses.

      • Amin says

        I am an openly gay transsexual Muslim.(Therefore I identify as a heterosexual) Trans is not a mental disorder it is an elevation of cis normative ignorance. It is only granted to special candidates by allah. Islam is the only true ideology that accepts the superiority and beauty of gtih! (Gay Transsexual Identifying Heyro)

  6. Shawn T says

    “driven to suicide” – perhaps this is the problem. There is more and more inclination to think of suicide as something that is done to someone. It simply isn’t. The problem lies within the person committing the act. Changing society, culture, politics, economics or basically everyone except the person attempting it will not make suicide disappear. Thinking there is some reason to “drive” people to it is naive.

    • Gordon Smith says

      There was a case I read about recently when a young woman was charged when her ex completed suicide after she sent text messages saying “why don’t you kill your self etc”. Whilst I think that behaviour is appalling I am also uncomfortable with her being charged.

      • Thylacine says

        @Gordon Smith: Why are you uncomfortable? When a racist rants in the public square, and violence ensues, most people would be happy to have her charged with incitement to commit violence. How much more appropriate is that charge when the person doing the inciting is in a supposedly trusting relationship to the victim, and is not ranting to the world at large but directly to the victim himself?

      • “There was a case I read about recently when a young woman was charged when her ex completed suicide after she sent text messages saying “why don’t you kill your self etc”. ”

        It wasn’t because she simply said “why don;t you kill yourself” once or twice.

        She engaged in a lengthy, constant emotionally manipulative effort ion which she not only encouraged suicidal thought, but encouraged suicidal behavior, including helping him plan the actual suicide and even talking him into going through with it shortly before when he texted his doubts.

  7. Saw file says

    @AJ
    There’s a lot of truth in what you wrote.
    The anecdotes from my own life is telling. I have known far too many men who’ve committed suicide, but only one woman ( debatable as a accidental o.d.).
    I have helped more than a few men that where going through dark times, contemplating that horrible “solution”.
    I’ve checked and even though there was publicly funded targeted female specific prevention assistance, I couldn’t find any that was specifically for men. Statistically that doesn’t make sense, unless the underlying forces are taken into account.
    Due to pressure from the families and friends of these lost men (advocacy from men’s groups has been categorically ignored), that the system has failed, I do see some marginal changes with that unbalanced situation occurring now.
    It’s tragic that it has taken the pile of male suicide victim’s graduation from a hill to a mountain for some of these changes to occur.

  8. David of Kirkland says

    It’s fine to study why people kill themselves.
    It’s fine to look for solutions that can reduce this impulse.
    It’s not fine to suggest that suicide is evil or illegal or immoral. Death arrives for us all, whether strong or weak, sick or healthy, rich or poor, smart or stupid. It’s unlikely a death by accident or disease, or by charging a fortified hill, or by martyrdom, or by old age after losing control of your body/mind, is really better than one by suicide. Forced living isn’t moral.

    • Andrew says

      When someone kills themselves, they are killing peoples child, sibling, friend, lover etc. They are permanently scarring everyone who loves them because they are too weak and egotistical to deal with their problems. Suicide is pathetic, immoral, and we should spit on the graves of all who do it. The only result of not condemning suicide is that people will be more willing to kill themselves.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @Andrew

        Wow, that’s harsh. Seems like a horrible attitude to me. What if someone kills himself because he has no friends or family who love him? Or if he is diagnosed with a terminal disease that means the remainder of his short life will be spent in agony? I think most people who kill themselves are the opposite of egotistical, they are self-loathing.

        • Gordon Smith says

          Harsh but the reality is when you kill yourself you do not end the pain you transmit it and those left behind carry it.

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Gordon

            Not in my example of the unloved man. I don’t think it’s nice to spit on anyone’s grave.

          • Stoic Realist says

            I think you need to elaborate. Right now this implies ‘stay alive and suffer in misery for the sake of the people around you’. Stay alive and suffer so the woman who told you to go kill yourself doesn’t feel bad seems unpersuasive. I don’t think it is the point you intend.

          • Kim D says

            Gordon, but your pain is ended. In the presence of a terminal illness causing intractable pain and suffering, I might choose it. People with serious depression are also suffering, and all they want is to end the pain. Certainly, others will be sad afterwards, as I have been, but I can understand the motivation and the power of impulse when in total despair.

      • joeblogs says

        Weakness can work in two ways. I was suicidal for a 6 month period during the 90’s after about 8 years of depression and I lacked the courage to suicide, even though the thought of doing so was constant.

        Also, I during this period, I used to often wake up and my first thought was often of shooting people with guns (not that I had any or ever made any plans – it disgusted me and made me think some form of devil had infested my head).

        Sometimes weakness is a good thing.

        Another reason I did not suicide was that I did not want to hurt my family (and thank my luck for having this release valve) – so I agree that society needs to retain it’s cultural view of it being a condemnable thing.

      • mitchellporter says

        Andrew: do you speak from experience here? Did you know a suicide, whose memory you now spit on?

      • Ghatanathoah says

        @Andrew

        Are you sure it’s the suicidal person who is the egotistical one? Telling someone: “I know you are in pain, but you can’t do something that will end that pain because it will make me sad.” seems pretty egotistical to me.

        If someone commits suicide it makes sense to be sad for them. It makes sense to wish they’d been able to stop their suffering by dealing with their problems instead of through death. And it’s reasonable to think that maybe that person had been impulsive and short sighted, and that maybe they could have successfully resolved those issues if they hadn’t committed suicide; and it’s reasonable to be sad for them, and to wish they were still alive.

        It isn’t reasonable to expect someone to keep living in pain purely because of the effect their death will have on those who love them. If you really love someone then you shouldn’t want them to be in pain. Mourning someone is painful, but everyone will die eventually. Suicide doesn’t stop people from mourning, it just changes when the mourning will occur.

      • StFual says

        I disagree. People need to grow up. We should treat all death pragmatically and be honest though not voyeuristic about cause. I do not plan to die of old age. What I hope for is to be able to exit in a way that causes minimum pain and inconvenience at a time of my choosing. I find the idea that some stranger or underfunded healthcare system will have to deal with my incontinent or demented remains abhorrent and immoral. No wild animal dies of old age. I dont want to either.

        • Black Knight Fool says

          I think a lot of men will be planning to die by suicide than to grow old because of the sense of purposelessness in life

      • Softclocks says

        Your life is your own.
        Everyone is entitled to the one choice. Rant as you will, but that’s the one option morally available to every man and woman.

        Life is a gift that should not be forced on anyone.

      • curiositas says

        As the family member of a person who committed suicide, I hope someone spits on your grave someday, Andrew. I don’t normally make personal attacks, but this vile mess warrants it. Your ignorance is astounding, and you should be ashamed of yourself. You don’t know the first thing about the mental state or suffering suicidal people experience.

        Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. And that person will never be you.

    • Castro Simplex says

      @David – Well said. I’ve never really understood the condemnation of suicide, especially these days with an overpopulated earth. Maybe it’s rooted in the concept that the state has a monopoly on killing people, which made particular sense when the state’s power was measured by the number of hoplites in the phalanx.

      As for the argument that it hurts others, people need to understand that everything isn’t about themselves. If someone else suicides, it’s about them not you. If there weren’t such a stigma attached to suicide, perhaps someone who thinks they are ready to go would be able to prepare their actual friends and loved ones. Sure, there will be the people who unilaterally decide they were besties after the fact, but those people would have found some other drama to induce those life long scars.

      • Black Knight Fool says

        Radical feminists will claim that men do it to hurt other people out of their misogyny.

        Radical feminists have invested this website as well.

  9. Etiamsi omnes says

    @David of K

    Non è viltà, ne da viltà procede
    S’alcun, per evitar più crudel sorte,
    Odia la propria vita e cerca morte…

    Meglio è morir all’anima gentile
    Che supportar inevitabil danno
    Che lo farria cambiar animo e stile.
    Quanti ha la morte già tratti d’affano!
    Ma molti ch’hanno il chiamar morte a vile
    Quanto talor sia dolce ancor non sanno.

    Giuliano dei Medici

    It is no cowardice, nor does it proceed from cowardice
    When, to eschew a more cruel fate,
    One scorns one’s own life and seeks death.

    A genteel mind had rather die
    Than endure unavoidable infamy
    Such as would compromise heart and demeanor.
    How many has death snatched from worse ills!
    As for the many have called death mean:
    Little do they know how sweet it then becomes

    English is no more my native language than is Italian, so if you think you can come up wit a better translation…

  10. Sydney says

    “Native Americans are also poorer than average, often suffer from discrimination, and, historically, have been the victims of oppression, so a higher level of suicide might be expected. But then black Americans suffer from the same disadvantages, and yet have a lower suicide rate than average.”

    I feel that after following Larry Elder and Thomas Sowell for the past couple of years that I ought to push back against, “…black Americans suffer from the same disadvantages…”

    It’s their repeated claims, backed by facts, that American blacks simply DO NOT suffer from historical or institutional disadvantages. They demonstrate that ‘race hucksters’ like anti-Semite/racist Louis Farrakhan, activist/racist Jesse Jackson, and others profit personally by encouraging a complete fiction of black victimhood.

    I’m ex-left and now centrist, and I’ve learned from Elder and Sowell that this is a dangerous fiction and hides what they smartly call the ‘bigotry of low expectations.’

    (Sorry, I know my comment doesn’t speak directly to male suicide, but now those ‘oppressed black’ declarations annoy me.)

    • jakesbrain says

      “The soft bigotry of low expectations” — a piercingly accurate phrase… first popularized by George W. Bush, believe it or not.

      • Sydney says

        @jakesbrain

        Thanks! I won’t forget the ‘soft’ part again. My mistake. Honestly? GWB?? Wait, I’m not American: is that the Jr who appointed first-ever black female Sec of State, Condoleeza Rice?

    • jimhaz says

      I was going to comment on that paragraph as well.

      Native Americans suffer from a loss of identity, whereas black americans for the most part do not.
      To me this creates a huge contextual difference, particularly in light of the woes of our Australian aborigines.

      • Sydney says

        Hahahaha. No, thank you @interguru. But please feel free to ‘check out’ how NYT hired a known racist to its editorial board. You’ll find all the info at #SarahJeongIsRacist

        NYT is a purveyor of yellow (no racist pun intended) journalism. NYT is far-left, intersectionalist, divisive, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic trash. It wasn’t always so, but it has evolved into this.

  11. ga gamba says

    Violent methods are more likely to result in death, hence the skew.

    Crickey! Yet another gap keeping down the ladies.

    Is it because violent suicide is gendered by the systemic systems of structural institutions? Do women lack the confidence? Or maybe there are fewer role models slamming their Zeros into the USS Saratoga and HMS Formidable.

  12. Bill says

    Women attempt suicide because they expect someone to save. Men commit suicide because they know nobody will!

  13. “Durkheim created a detailed typology, categorizing suicides based on the reasons behind them. For instance, he suggested losing one’s sense of identity might lead to dislocation, anguish, and ultimately the desire to kill oneself.”

    Could this explain why adopted persons are at higher than average risk of suicide? And wouldn’t gender dysphoria qualify as a loss of identity? As for black Americans, wouldn’t the choice of a violent lifestyle be a kind of suicide?

    It’s indeed a complex issue.

    • Ria says

      @benita: yes, speaking from my own experience, gender dysphoria does quality as a loss of identity. misgendering also.

  14. Sydney says

    Big omission in this post. SSRI antidepressants (and other drugs, including some tranquilizers and anti-inflammatories) can cause/raise risk of suicidal (and homicidal) ideation. Pharma manufacturers hid evidence of these links for years, and now it’s public.

    Nobody should refer to suicide without addressing the suicide risks caused by psychiatric drugs.

    Regardless, I’m very glad to see a post about the higher rates of male suicide at a time when male-bashing is trendy and acceptable. This is a tough time for boys to be growing up.

    • jakesbrain says

      From my experience and that of others I’ve spoken with, it seems to me that the particular risk of SSRIs and other antidepressants is that they remove one’s depression-induced inanition before they go to work on the depression itself. So there’s a very dangerous period where you’re still tempted towards suicide or self-harm, but your initiative to act is no longer totally inhibited by despair; you’re less likely to ask yourself “What’s the use?” and shrug it off, and more likely to actually go through with it.

      • Sydney says

        @jakesbrain

        I’m not trying to argue for argument’s sake on this, and not trying to ‘win’ a comment battle.

        I’ve been reading about these drugs for a long time, and I’m afraid you’re greatly overstating their efficacy, and/or positive activity, and/or utility. From my own reading I wouldn’t ever say they ‘go to work’ on a ‘depression itself,’ or that there’s ‘a period’ where they’re less harmful than they are overall, at all periods.

        There are more questions than answers on what they do, how they do it, and on their terrible long-term effects. It’s very clear by 2019 that it’s better to steer clear of them altogether, for life. The most forward-thinking, smartest, and most honest (and honorable) psychiatrists do not prescribe them; and in fact these (albeit few) people now refuse to prescribe any psychiatric drugs at all.

        Nothing in the DSM is evidence-based disease; it’s ALL check-list diagnosis that allows an MD to prescribe and thus be paid. Billions have been poured into ‘brain’ research to find pharma ‘cures’ for ‘schizophrenia’ and other labels. Nothing has been discovered along this route because researchers are looking in the wrong places.

        This isn’t to pretend that people don’t experience small, medium, and extraordinary crises in their ‘minds.’ (It’s well-understood now that our crises are often not just in our minds but in our bodies, guts, and for want of a better word, ‘spirits.’) They do. We do. Sadly, NO pharma corrects or fixes any of it.

        And the more we know about psycho-pharma’s terrible side effects; long-term damage to brains and organs; plus suicide and homicide ideation, the less anyone should want to take the risk in the first place. I wish evidence showed the contrary, but it doesn’t.

        • Joana George says

          I just want to leave the name of two books here, in case people would like to look more into what Sydney is saying.

          Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature, by Richard P. Bental (first part of the book is a critical history of the DSM);
          Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs, by Richard J. Miller

        • Its’ sad you feel that way. I hope in time you come to see differently.

          • Saw file says

            @Drew
            Pay no attention.
            That’s just some needy pathetic clown masquerading as “S. Cheung”.
            Although, such a depressingly desperate cry for attention may be an indication they’re contemplating suicide, but in this case it might not necessarily be a net negative.

    • Gordon Smith says

      But women are much more likely to be treated with SSRI medication than men?

  15. Morgan says

    The suicide success rate is lower in women because women aren’t trying to kill themselves. They’re trying to get attention, and they get it. Men succeed because they know it’s over, that no one will ever value them, and they want it to actually end.

  16. Harrison Bergeron says

    The only reason I have ever invoked high suicide rates in men is in response to the feminist assertion that the patriarchy exists to advantage men at the expense of women. It is a simple and succinct way to refute a simple minded argument put forward by feminists. Otherwise I have not, in the past, spent a lot of time worrying about it.

    I am older so perhaps it its a generational thing but I don’t know any men who sit around fretting about high male suicide rates, high male occupational death rates, high male homelessness rates etc. Most of them would simply say that suicide, on the job deaths and homelessness are bad.

    That is how I have lived most of my life. I have found myself bringing the gendered aspects of these issues lately simply to get feminsts to shut the fuck up about how they are such victims. One of the results of having to engage this obnoxious logic is how lousy it makes me feel. I think that is why most men try to ignore it and move one.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Harrison Bergeron

      Same here. I am not in favor of breaking people into arbitrary identity groups and comparing stats. This kind of argument only becomes necessary in response to people being first criticized for the arbitrary identity groups they happen to belong to (white, male, etc.). Besides the male suicide issue, another example is that I have no interest in comparing IQ’s or crime rates or whatever among different races (or even thinking about race at all, for that matter), but it becomes necessary to do so in self defense when the prevailing narrative is that the poor life outcomes predominant in one racial group are the result of their oppression by myself and other members of my racial group. It makes me feel lousy as well to engage in that kind of rhetoric and I wish we were still moving away from it as a society as we had been doing throughout the 20th century, instead of regressing back towards that way of thinking again. To the extent that white supremacist thought is on the rise in western societies today (which I don’t think is really much extent at all), I suspect that it is primarily driven by this defensive response to a seemingly pervasive anti-white cultural sentiment. It’s a messed up situation, for sure.

      • Harrison Bergeron says

        Exactly. When SJWs blather on incessantly about this group or that group then you end up engaging at the same level which is something you never wanted to do. The result is that whites (for instance) who in the past never spent any time thinking about their “whiteness” and other people’s non-whiteness are either forced to admit their guilt (for some reason) or defending themselves (and becoming increasingly angrier). The result? An uglier more divided society.

  17. Nigel Burrage says

    In the UK working class men got the right to vote under the same bill of parliament on the same day as women . Prior to this women are described as being men’s chattel when under the contract of marriage but this is not that simple and was in fact a means of gaining women’s rights . Statutory law did not start in earnest until after the legal system was unified by the acts of judicature so to have legally enforceable rights obligations were created of men under the law of coveture to women and children within the marriage contract . Men and women have been oppressed in history by other men and women but never just men over women . It’s worth noting that at a time when women couldn’t vote more than half the male population could not vote either and more than 95%of the men killed in the First World War did not have the vote either yet the suffragettes campaign was solely for women’s vote not universal suffrage as the suffragists did . The simplicity of the oppressed by the patriarchy argument does not stack up even less so if execution and torture are considered with many more men tortured and executed.The flogging of women was banned in 1820 it took until 1967 to be banned for men . An interesting area to consider with male suicide is domestic violence of which men make up nearly half the victims yet feminists have until recently tried to pretend it does not exist treating male victims as perpetrators,then there’s the correlation with parental alienation.

  18. Marty says

    I found a lot of interesting information in your article. However, your throwaway paragraph about reducing suicide by eliminating the means (gas ovens and gun control) is rather ridiculous.

    Banning razor blades, ropes, high bridges and fast cars might help, too. But that still leaves cliffs, fast-flowing rivers, train tracks and myriad other ordinary hazards of everyday life which can be turned against oneself. The common factor is that you are just as dead, no matter which method you use, which makes your gun control swipe even more ridiculous.

    My step-daughter’s university room-mate is currently being held for long-term treatment after a suicide attempt 2 weeks ago. She was very nearly successful, slitting her arms multiple times after consuming all three bottles of the anti-depressants she was on. Perhaps that qualifies as “doctor-assisted” suicide?

    Serendipity saved her, not any cry for help. A friend stopped by unannounced and found her dorm-room door unlocked. Had she been successful she would have been just as dead as if she’d used a gun.

    • Andrew Roddy says

      If there was a drop off in the UK suicide rate in the sixties is not more likely to be associated with ascendancy of the Beatles as an irresistible force of cultural optimism than any change in the domestic gas supply. Of course when a say more likely I mean equally implausible. It could have been mini-skirts. Surely that was something worth living for?

    • MARTY says

      My point really is that when you title an article “Time to Stop Using Suicide For Political Point-Scoring” and then insert a throwaway paragraph about gun control without any cites … well…

      • Locketopus says

        Yeah, there’s just a link to a magazine article that doesn’t even give the title or journal of the actual published research. Assuming it was published at all.

        Maybe we could try preventing people from promulgating bad, agenda-driven “science” on the internet by taking away their computers.

        I mean, I’d bet one could find a pretty strong relationship between “promulgates bad, agenda-driven ‘science’ on the internet” and “has access to a computer”.

        Also, I understand that obesity rates are quite high in countries where people have access to food.

  19. John Drake says

    Look to family court for some answers to the male suicide problem.

    • Thylacine says

      @ John Drake: You are right. Family courts are the biggest source of gender discrimination in the western world; yet in most western countries, judges are supposed to be the ones with authority to root out discrimination by everyone else. The irony is grotesque.

  20. Graham says

    ‘Most commentators neglect the fact that, although men are significantly more likely to die by suicide, women are two to four times more likely to attempt suicide.’ Funny that. I have genuinely OFTEN heard that exact same statistic used – ALWAYS by feminists – in any ‘discussion’ like this. It takes away from any male suffering having the spotlight shone on it, drawing attention back to women as usual. Suicide, and attempts, are not a competition. Female rights are discussed constantly in the public arena. Men’s rights and pains hardly ever are, except disparagingly.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Graham

      Also, suicide “attempts” are most often not actually suicide attempts. I myself would contribute two instances to the official suicide attempt statistics, but in retrospect in neither case did I actually intend to kill myself. If I had truly wanted to die, it would not have been a hard thing to accomplish. Staying alive is considerably more challenging.

  21. David says

    The author apparently wants to exclude cultural and social factors in an etiology of suicide in men, even as she acknowledges it can be a factor.

    She apparently wants to absolve certain kinds of politics, ideologies, and systems of any responsibility.

    Instead she suggests that personal factors might be more responsible — “depression, addiction, psychosis, physical ill-health, personality disorders, trauma, bereavement, and extreme isolation.”

    These are no doubt important factors, but they also may be influenced by social conditions, and why stigmatize discussion about cultural and social factors in general?

    Imagine taking any intersectional issue and excluding social factors in favor of personal factors — you would be accused of victim blaming and a failure to understand social causation straight away.

    It’s a good idea to include ALL factors in an etiology of suicide rather than try to exclude politically sensitive factors as this author has attempted.

    Also, it’s common knowledge that women attempt suicide more; I’ve never seen this fact excluded.

    • Andrew Mcguiness says

      @David: Yes, you’re right. It’s an intelligent and interesting piece, overall, but there’s a sneaky argument which the author never makes fully explicit. The author wants to argue that the much higher risk of death by suicide is not analyzable in political terms (ie. not due to systemic disadvantage for men), because a straightforward statistical correlation is lacking either between suicide and suffering (such as from war), or between suicide and economic disadvantage. Mentally ill people, and autistic people, have higher rates of suicide; the broad implication is that men are either mentally ill or autistic(-like) – or that anyway there is something harmful about masculinity as gender expression or something defective about biological maleness.

      But that conclusion isn’t supported by the data presented, since what is clear is that the reasons why more people in a particular group commit suicide (where the group isn’t characterised by mentall illness or autism) are simply unknown. The author might be right in saying, “I don’t think this data tells us anything at all about the degree to which men and women are oppressed or mistreated” – but it betrays a lack of compassion not to wonder why the “worldwide the suicide rate for men is almost twice as high as that for women”. The worse imbalance in the West (3:1 in Australia) strongly suggests the contribution of societal factors. Of course political explanations are not the only factor! But to dismiss any political explanation just because someone has claimed that it is a gendered issue, is an obvious oversimplification in itself – I have never seen it claimed that male suicide is due only to gender oppression, with no other cause.

      • Lady Mondegreen says

        “the broad implication is that men are either mentally ill or autistic(-like) – or that anyway there is something harmful about masculinity as gender expression or something defective about biological maleness.”

        If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will start treating all your problems like a nail.

        IOW, stop projecting.

    • Lady Mondegreen says

      “The author apparently wants to exclude cultural and social factors in an etiology of suicide in men…”

      The author points out that cultural and social disadvantage or oppression alone does NOT account for suicide rates. For any group.

      • Andrew Mcguiness says

        Mondegreen, I’m going to respond, but please leave ad hominems out of your reply. (I’m referring to “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will start treating all your problems like a nail. IOW, stop projecting.”)

        It’s true that the author briefly acknowledges the possible contribution of ‘politics’, near the end of the essay: “Of course, politics can sometimes be a part of the picture, but it’s dangerous to suggest that it is the only factor.” I’ve never seen it suggested, anywhere, that ‘politics’ or cultural factors are the only factor in suicide, so it’s a straw man to suggest that it is the author’s target. However, the whole essay is spent arguing against the idea that suicide statistics can be any indication of the political status of any group, which is not the same view as that politics are the only factor in the suicide rate of a group. In fact, significant differences in the suicide rate between different cultural groups indicate that there at least might be cultural factors at play which would be worth investigating. Nowhere does Perry address this in the case of men – the general thrust of the article (despite the disclaimer towards the end) is that the data does not point to cultural factors as part of the picture. If the point of the piece is that politics might be part of the picture (although not the only part) then we could expect some discussion of how politics might be part of the picture in the case of men and how to go about investigating that. Instead, the author’s concern is with political point-scoring which she asserts is a) always unjustified, and b) sometimes justified.

        Perry starts out with a quote from somebody who “callously dismissed the problem of male suicide”, and then spends the rest of the essay implying – but not arguing outright in a way which would invite rebuttal – that suicide should not be thought of as a male problem. The effect is of a more wordy, more science-y dismissal of the problem of male suicide.

  22. jimhaz says

    I had a look at the Wiki entry on suicides rates per country and cannot make heads or tails of them.

    Admittedly I was looking for signs of higher suicide in countries with strong feminism – thus creating a loss of masculine identity and the resulting nihilism.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

    Russia’s does not surprise me with their high levels of alcoholism and seemingly ingrained cultural negativity.

    Caribbeans have low rates – I wonder if that is the ganja effect.

    Middle eastern folk can always commit suicide by joining Islamic imperialist groups – those most susceptible are killed off early.

    • Peter Kriens says

      Females have become unhappier since the seventies when feminism became strong, while males became happier1. Quite dramatically, males are today happier than females which was not the case. Explanation is that women have become more responsible for the income of the household. It does not seem too far fetched to assume a decrease for males and increase for females regarding suicide?

    • Lady Mondegreen says

      “Admittedly I was looking for signs of higher suicide in countries with strong feminism – thus creating a loss of masculine identity and the resulting nihilism.”

      I somehow doubt that the lack of evidence for your hypothesis will quell your enthusiasm for it.

  23. mitchellporter says

    Comments above, that are attributed to “Amin” and “S. Cheung” (two non-right-wing Quillette regulars), are evidently fake.

  24. Third wave feminists often make the mistake of assuming that men hate women as much as they hate men. That their hatred of men is so violent supports their narrative of being violently oppressed. It is entirely circular and entirely self-created.

  25. Fionn says

    Largely a sensible, level-headed piece which I mostly agree with. I take issue with this paragraph, however:

    “Most commentators neglect the fact that, although men are significantly more likely to die by suicide, women are two to four times more likely to attempt suicide. This paradox is explained by the fact that most suicide attempts fail, and the failure rate varies according to method. Men are more likely to choose violent methods, while women are more likely to take overdoses. Violent methods are more likely to result in death, hence the skew.”

    There is nothing “paradoxical” about this observed statistical trend. An alternate way of framing the data would be that “Men tend to choose more violent means of suicide because they are sincere in their desire to kill themselves; women tend to choose less violent means of suicide because their attempts are better thought of as cries for help or attention.”

  26. Gordon Smith says

    A few things to mention. First “attempted suicides” can be misleading as one person can attempt suicide 50 times and that counts as 50 attempts such inflates the figure with attention seeking behaviour.
    Secondly the reason wealthy countries have higher suicide is the “relative misery theory” when people only compare themselves with their own environment so when so many are thriving and you are not it highlights it.
    Thirdly the comment on “men’s rights activists “ blaming society is I agree wrong however it is the exact same argument used to explain transgender suicide so you can’t have it both ways.

  27. Gordon Smith says

    In Australia the highest rates of male suicide by far is over 85 year olds presumably due to chronic pain, loneliness perhaps not recognising the world anymore and ageism.
    The second highest rate is middle age (from memory 40-55) and that I still largely thought to be attributed to relationship endings and financial collapse.

  28. Mec B says

    Really!? no statistical link between the very limited child infant mortality rate in the developed world as natural noose? No stats related to a relatively stress free developed world with no real serious wars since WWII. No thought into relatively lowered physical stress in our day to day life whether it be at work or at home.
    It feels almost like we’d rather look in stupid directions for some kind of explanation for suicide attempts rather than what each of us in the developed world actually live like which is, relative to our generations just in the early 20th century as pampered stress free animals with nothing to really worry about.
    Or to put it another way, every other generation of humans had to deal with extremely high rates of disease, malnutrition, hard hard labour, war, food shortage, high child mortality rates etc… and it would have been a PRIVILEGE to worry about suicide(outside of war torn engagement areas).
    I hate to be the bearer of awful, depressing realities but alas…

  29. MMS says

    Quillette at its best!

    Nuanced and impeccably well thought out and presented. Thank You!

    I especially liked “tired of hearing people bang on about suicide statistics when they’re ignorant of the facts:”.

    This line could work for any politically charged statistic.

  30. Lady Mondegreen says

    Trans ideologues use (inflated) suicide statistics the way narcissistic abusers use suicide threats: to manipulate others. “Do what I want/agree with me or I’ll kill myself.”

    (And no, I’m NOT saying that suicide or the sharing of suicidal thoughts is always–or usually–done in order to manipulate others. But it is a known tactic of abusers.)

    Brilliant article, thank you.

    • Ria says

      @Lady Mondegreen: gender dsyphoria does a real number on you. I know this from firsthand experience. trans people’s bodies rarely live up to our self-image. I could go into other, more external issues but that will do for now.

  31. It’s crap like this that makes me embarrassed for feminism. Thanks you harsh mouth apparition who appears in female form! Stop abusing ‘women’ in order to exorcise your personal demons. Grow the F up, you are not speaking to us or for us.

  32. mirrormere says

    Could the rise of male suicide rates be due to several decades worth of raising boys to “recognize their feminine qualities”? Women are higher in neuroticism, after all, and women have higher rates of attempting suicide. Has this perhaps transferred to males?

    Maybe we should be teaching girls to toughen up instead.

  33. Anonymous Reader says

    Lazy feminist writer does no real research, produces meandering article that doesn’t really say anything new. However she does manage to mis-cite Rollo Tomassi – he is not a Men’s Rights Advocate.

    < blockquote>“tired of hearing people bang on about suicide statistics when they’re ignorant of the facts:”.

    Yet another example of an ignorant feminist projecting her own attitude, demonstrating feminist contempt for facts.

  34. Eero says

    This article claims women really have a higher suicide rate because of higher rate of suicide ATTEMPTS, while completely ignoring the phenomenon of parasuicide i.e. women have higher rates of FAKING suicide attempts they know will fail in order to garner attention. Like any other form of self-harm, it’s a cry for attention, not a real suicide attempt; they don’t really intend to end their life. Such women don’t actually want to kill themselves. Men are indeed far far more likely to be pushed to the brink of actually wanting to end their lives and make it happen.

    A similar phenomenon is seen with the wildly inflated “41% Trans suicide rate” which includes any degree of “suicide attempt” not an actual suicide rate.

    In the USA, 80% of suicides are males while 75% of parasuicides (deliberately failed “suicide attempts”) are females.

    Does this article’s author really want to argue women are just so stupid and incompetent they can’t even figure out how to kill themselves (when they really want to!) to explain such a MASSIVE disparity between “attempted suicide” rates versus ACTUAL suicide rates? Only a man can figure out how to put a gun to his head and pull the trigger, if someone is truly intent on immediately ending their life…?

    • Eero says

      Clarification:
      80% of all suicide DEATHS are MALES vs. 75% of all suicide ATTEMPTS are FEMALES

      So for every male who attempts suicide there are 3 females who attempt suicide, yet for every female who actually completes suicide there are 4 males who completed suicide.

      Sorry but when women make up 3/4 of all suicide attempts but only 1/5 of actual suicides, need a better explanation than “men like violence”. People in true suicidal mindset who really want to end their lives will find and use whatever means will accomplish that goal.

      People who want to be discovered ostensibly attempting suicide and taken to the hospital with all attention on them will use sub-lethal means of self-harm, in a time/place where they know they will be found by someone while alive to get them whatever help they may need for resuscitation. Very peculiar that such perfect circumstances needed to survive a suicide attempt happen to apply to >99% of female suicide attempts…

      In 2017 USA were 1,400,000 suicide attempts and 47,173 suicides.

      Women made 1,050,000 suicide attempts
      Men made 350,000 suicide attempts

      Women completed 9,434 actual suicides: 0.9% ‘success’ rate
      Men completed 37,739 actual suicides: 10.8% ‘success’ rate

      700,000 more female attempts than male. 28,305 more male suicides than female.

      Women attempt over a million suicides a year but actually kill themselves in less than 1% of cases. Failing over 99% of the time doesn’t happen by accident. Parasuicide is a real phenomenon and should be acknowledged as such.

      Women far more prone to parasuicide; even within the 0.9% of actual female suicides are parasuicidal accidental deaths, at higher rate than such accidental deaths occur among males.

      11% ‘successful’ suicide rate among males who attempt suicide is already disturbingly high. But add truly suicidal males among the survivors who intended to die but accidentally survived their first attempts, and subtract non-suicidal females who accidentally killed themselves while attempting parasuicide among the 0.9% female deaths….

      End up with an even wider gap, and the <1% intentional female suicide rate approaches yet closer to 0; women deliberately trying to end their own lives an extremely rare statistical anomaly.

      As to whether this enormous gap is explained by extraordinarily high female rates of parasuicide (deliberately failed “suicide attempts”, self-harm cry for attention without real intent to die), or by extraordinarily high female rates of stupidity and incompetence-women really tried to kill themselves but 99.1% failed(!) at that basic task…?

      ‘Tis far more reasonable to conclude the overwhelming majority of female suicide attempts were parasuicides without intent to die, rather than that men are just 11 times more competent. Parasuicide is a problem in its own right to be sure. Why so many women calling out for help by faking suicide attempts, self-harming by non-lethal means without intent to die, to attract attention-as an alive person?

      But parasuicide should be recognized as distinct from actual suicide-which is a problem sui generis given its uniquely permanent devastating consequences.

      .

      The link to 4thWaveNow debunking the “41% Trans suicide rate” has a link to the self-debunking source “National Transgender Discrimination Survey” which describes four severe “limitations” to their own survey’s findings, one of which addresses this very issue citing the same data.

      The survey cites further data exposing the inherent flaw of conflating “suicide attempt” rates with actual suicide rates; just as with women versus men, a giant gap is also observed between high suicide attempt rates among adolescents versus high completed suicide rates among the elderly.

      Only a tiny % of those who attempt suicide and fail go on to die from a second suicide attempt-though in study cited, males who attempt suicide and survive are more than twice as likely to kill themselves in a second suicide attempt within a year compared to females who survive a suicide attempt:

      “Finally, it should be emphasized that the NTDS, like all similar surveys, captured information about suicide attempts, not completed suicide. Lacking any information about completed suicide among transgender people (due primarily to decedents not being identified by gender identity or transgender status), it may be tempting to consider suicide attempt data to be the best available proxy measure of suicide death.

      Data from the U.S. population at large, however, show clear demographic differences between suicide attempters and those who die by suicide. While almost 80 percent of all suicide deaths occur among males, about 75 percent of suicide attempts are made by females.

      Adolescents, who overall have a relatively low suicide rate of about 7 per 100,000 people, account for a substantial proportion of suicide attempts, making perhaps 100 or more attempts for every suicide death. By contrast, the elderly have a much higher suicide rate of about 15 per 100,000, but make only four attempts for every completed suicide.

      Although making a suicide attempt generally increases the risk of subsequent suicidal behavior, six separate studies that have followed suicide attempters for periods of five to 37 years found death by suicide to occur in 7 to 13 percent of the samples (Tidemalm et al., 2008). We do not know whether these general population patterns hold true for transgender people but in the absence of supporting data, we should be especially careful not to extrapolate findings about suicide attempts among transgender adults to imply conclusions about completed suicide in this population.”

  35. Peter says

    I’ve always been shocked by people who consider suicide as something that happens to you rather than something you do. If I ever attempt suicide, I don’t want ANYONE to “save” me, especially if “saving me” would make my situation even worse than before!

    You might consider me an asshole, but I think the reverse is true. Suicide a palliative, an escape, a lesser evil. The problem is not suicide itself, it’s what leads to it. You want to prevent suicide? Talk with suicidal people, listen to their needs, their aspirations, their fears, their burdens, try to help them overcome them. And if you can’t, at least have the dignity to say that you won’t. I can’t understand how people think that involuntary commitment, and all the violence, the humiliation, the contempt, the terror that acommpanies it are somehow any better than painless suicide.

  36. Donald Tikkala says

    An exceptional article. I bow my head to the writer. In the land where my people came from, suicide is a big problem, possibly due in part to long winter nights. In the land where I live, there’s a saying: If you live in Thunder Bay and are planning a weekend project involving rope, don’t wait until Saturday to buy it, because Finns will have bought it all on Friday to hang themselves.

  37. Frankenlich says

    whose adherents insist that the higher suicide rates are evidence that men are an oppressed class.

    Lolno. I’ve never met or spoke to an MRA who thinks men are an oppressed class. They just think men have issues that also deserve to be addressed in a gender-specific way. The claim that they are an oppressed class is a straswman erected by those who want to keep the conversation centererd around women and their genders-pecific problems.

  38. Mattheus says

    The message of this article – “don’t be quick to plug suicide statistics into the cause of your favorite political narrative” – seems to only be meant for bad thinkers. Whether it be actual suicides or attempted suicides, changes in these trends over time means something. The scattershot of explanations above seems to say, “We can never know what this means. So let’s just say nothing.” The claim, meant to stifle the activists, is to open strong. We can often make sense of cultural trends like this, using a combination of ideas in culture and gender differences. The end result of this article is that people which want to help reverse trends of suicide have nowhere to start. That’s a bad message, and I wish the article had not taken the tact that it had to prevent the “bad thinkers” from doing what they do.

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