Year: 2020 Source: Social Science & Medicine. (2020). DOI: SIEC No: 20200688

Male suicide is a significant issue globally, and implicated are men’s challenges around help-seeking and engagement with peer or professional mental health care. While men’s reticence for help-seeking predominates as an explanatory gendered dimension for male suicide, there are significant caveats and complexities to fully understanding those practices in the context of men’s mental illness and suicidality. The current photo-voice study offers considerable insight into such issues – through the eyes of the bereaved – retrospectively exploring accounts of the deceased’s mental health help-seeking prior to the death. Using an interpretive design, and based on semi-structured individual photo-elicitation interviews with 20 men who had lost a male friend, family member or partner to suicide, three key dimensions were identified: 1) Entrapped by secrecy and concealing the need for help, in which the deceased hid their suicide risk and need for peer or professional mental health care; 2) Overwhelming illness that couldn’t be helped, wherein the deceased had previously connected with an array of social supports and medical services but was estranged from peer and professional help ahead of the suicide, and 3) Services and systems providing ineffectual help, whereby the deceased was connected with mental health care shortly before the suicide. These themes reveal complex relations to help, and help-seeking in men lost to suicide, as well as bereaved men’s reliance on normative masculinities as an explanatory framing of these practices. Discussed within a critical masculinities framework, the current study highlights the need to destigmatize men’s mental illness and help-seeking as well as address significant health inequities to aid the efficiencies of men’s suicide prevention programs.