Segmenting or summing the parts? A scoping review of male suicide research in Canada
Oliffe, J.L., Kelly, M.T., Montaner, G.G., Links, P.S., Kealy, D., & Ogrodniczuk, J.S.
Suicide in Canadian men is high and rising. Research consistently indicates increased suicide risk in male subgroups including sexual minority, Indigenous, middle-aged, and military men. The current scoping review addresses the research question: Among male subgroups featured in Canadian suicide research, what are the key findings to inform suicide prevention efforts?.
A scoping review was undertaken in accord with PRISMA-ScR guidelines. Structured searches were conducted in CIHAHL, Medline, PsychInfo, and Web of Science to identify studies reporting suicidality (suicidal ideation, plans and/or attempts) and suicide among men in Canada. Inclusion criteria comprised primary empirical studies featuring Canadian male subgroups published in English from 2009 to 2020 inclusive.
Sixty-eight articles met the inclusion criteria, highlighting significant rates of male suicidality and/or suicide in 3 categories: (1) health inequities (n = 29); (2) age-specific (n = 30); and (3) occupation (n = 9). The health inequities category included sexual minority men, Indigenous, and other marginalized males (i.e., homeless, immigrant men, and men who use opiates). Age-specific men focused on adolescents and youth, and middle-aged and older males. Active military, veterans, and first responders featured in the occupation category. Studies compared at risk male subgroups to females, general male populations, and/or other marginalized groups in emphasizing mental health disparities and increased suicide risk. Some men’s suboptimal connections to existing mental health care services were also highlighted.
While male subgroups who are vulnerable to suicidality and suicide were consistently described, these insights have not translated to tailored upstream suicide prevention services for Canadian boys and men. There may be some important gains through integrating social and mental health care services for marginalized men, implementing school-based masculinity programs for adolescent males, orientating clinicians to the potential for men’s mid-life suicide risks (i.e., separation, bereavement, retirement) and lobbying employers to norm help-seeking among activate military, veterans, and first responder males.