Males feature prominently in suicide statistics, but relatively little work has been done to date to explore whether endorsement of dominant masculinity norms heightens the risk of or is protective against suicidal thinking. This paper aimed to further knowledge in this area.
We used baseline data from 13,884 men (aged 18–55) in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health (Ten to Men) cohort. These men filled in self-complete questionnaires in 2013/14 which covered a range of topics, including conformity to dominant masculinity norms and suicidal thinking. We conducted logistic regression analyses to estimate the strength of association between these two variables.
After controlling for other key predictors of suicidal thinking, one characteristic of dominant masculinity—self-reliance—stood out as a risk factor for suicidal thinking (AOR 1.34; 95% CI 1.26–1.43).
It suggests that one particular element of dominant masculinity—being self-reliant—may place men at increased risk of suicidal thinking. This finding resonates with current theories of how suicidal thinking develops and leads to action. It also has implications for the full gamut of suicide prevention approaches that target males in clinical settings and in the general population, and for our broader society. Further work is needed, however, to confirm the direction of the relationship between self-reliance and suicidality, and to unpack the means through which self-reliance may exert an influence.