Depression and suicide rates among men over 40 are on the rise in the United States. According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) study published in June 2018, the incidence of suicide among men ages 45-64 increased by nearly 8% between the years 2000 and 2016. This represents the largest increase for any gender or age demographic throughout the study.
Untreated mental illness, inability to cope with stress and the reluctance of many men to seek help are some of the factors attributing to this disturbing increase. “Suicide is preventable. That’s why it is so important to understand the range of factors and circumstances that contribute to suicide risk, including relationship problems, substance misuse, physical and mental health conditions, job issues financial troubles and legal problems” said Anne Schuchat, MD, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC
Don’t Let Mental Illnesses Go Untreated
Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder or any eating disorder can be major contributors to suicidal thoughts. These disorders may begin earlier in life and can become worse as men age. The longer someone goes with an untreated mental disorder, the worse their signs may become and the harder it will be to treat the condition.
Studies show that individuals who have died of suicide and had a previously undiagnosed mental health condition were more likely to struggle with relationship problems, loss or other life problems.
Common signs of depression include: Fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, anger or hostility, stress, anxiety, substance abuse or suicidal thoughts.
If you suspect that you or a loved one are suffering from any of the above disorders, you should seek professional advice by going online and doing a mental health care provider search or find a qualified physician or clinician near you.
Don’t Let Stress Get The Best Of You
“Midlife stressors” can lead to a negative mental mindset, lack of self-confidence and a downhill spiral for many men. Things such as the loss of a job, death of a loved one or attempting to quantify overall achievements in life can be very stressful.
“It weighs heavily on their brain that they’ve either been downsized and out of a job or they can’t provide for their family.” Dr. Dan Reidenberg, executive director of SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education – and managing director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention
Finding a healthy outlet for stress is of vital importance to one’s health and wellbeing. In order to find suitable outlets, you must first be able to identify stressors and find ways to cope with them.
Always be aware during times of anger, anxiety or irritability and attempt to identify the cause. These emotions, even if small at the time, can build up and lead to larger and more destructive thoughts or behaviors. Exercise, enjoyable hobbies or therapy can be great ways to relieve stress and keep you mentally positive.
Seeking Help Doesn’t Make You “Weak”
“There’s a cultural bias of, ‘I should be able to fix this myself,'” says Dr. Alex Crosby, Surveillance Branch Chief in the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention about men’s inability to seek help dealing with feelings of depression.
No one should have to suffer alone. This is an epidemic that needs to be dealt with through a community of learning, cooperation and support. There needs to be a culture of comfort and openness in order for men to feel comfortable opening up and being able to heal. No one answer is going to be the solution to everyone’s problem, but there needs to be a place to start. “We need to, in our workplaces in particular, do much more to engage in conversations and make it okay to talk about suicide,” Says Dr. Reidenberg
The CDC has a goal of lowering the annual suicide rate 20% by the year 2025. Close coordination of activities between public health agencies and other social outreach programs is crucial to preventing suicide according to Schuchat.
The rising depression and suicide rates among middle aged men is an epidemic that cannot be ignored. If you or anyone you know is struggling to keep self doubt and social pressures from pushing them over the edge, it’s easier than you realize to seek help. The life you save could be your own.