Exploring the role of masculinities in suicidal behaviour

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

Masculinity is frequently cited as a potential reason why men are more likely than women to complete suicide. There has been less work exploring why this may be the case, and in particular, why men in certain social positions seem more vulnerable to suicide. In this paper I review a broad range of social scientific literature in order to elaborate upon and contextualise the suggestion that masculine identities and expressions contribute to men’s greater propensity for completing suicide. I do this in two ways. First, I examine the situated nature of masculinities, particularly in terms of socio-economic context. I introduce research which has identified the different ways in which masculinities are expressed through employment, unemployment and fatherhood. This section demonstrates that, for men in lower socio-economic groups, opportunities for masculine expression may be constrained by both opportunity and socio-cultural expectations. This heightens the chance that men in such positions have of ‘failing’ to achieve an acceptable masculinity. I then turn to the ways in which masculinities are expressed through bodily means, elaborating on the claim that many masculine practices ‘damage bodies’. I examine some of these practices, including fighting, health-related behaviours, and alcohol and drug use. Additionally, I address the claim that masculinity is especially associated with physicality. I problematise this, while suggesting that cultural expectations of masculinities do appear frequently to incorporate an approach towards bodies which is ‘risky’. Leading from this I discuss some of the ways in which suicide itself could be understood as an especially damaging physical expression of masculinity.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherSamaritans
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

Keywords

  • SUICIDE
  • SUICIDE-PREVENTION
  • MASCULINITIES
  • SOCIOLOGY
  • SOCIAL SCIENCE
  • Mental Health
  • INEQUALITIES

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