The following was written by reader Jim Evans.
On September 28th, it was on the front page: “Surprising Hike in Suicide Rates Found Among Baby Boomers”, read the headline in Yahoo News. Early in the article, it was reported that the suicide rate for middle-aged women has climbed faster than the suicide rate for middle-aged men. Increases of more than 3% per year were seen among women, and more than 2% among men.
The article bandies about a lot of numbers, particularly percentages. For example, suicide rates in men aged 40 to 49 who had some college but no degree went up 16.3 percent between 2000 and 2005, and a 30% increase in the suicide rate for women with some college but no degree during the same time period.
You have to dig deep into the actual study here, not just the news reports, to find out what the media are NOT saying: men are committing suicide at rates far outstripping that of women. Males aged 40-49 years who are unmarried, for example, commit suicide 3.6 times more often then women in the same age group. Unmarried males aged 50-59 years commit suicide 4.3 times more often than their female counterparts.
If you weren’t familiar with the media bias towards honoring women’s lives and ignoring men’s suffering, it might come as a surprise that in news reports chronicling suicide, no mention was made that in 2007, 27,000 males in the United States killed themselves, compared to 7,000 females. You might expect the headlines to read “Suicide among men 3.7 times greater than among women” or something to that effect.
Even looking at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Facts and Figures page
where the above numbers are listed, what is the bold headline underneath the table? “A woman takes her own life every 90 minutes in the U.S., but it is estimated that one woman attempts suicide every 78 seconds.” And in the bulleted list that follows, women are once again highlighted, even though they acknowledge that men commit suicide at a rate four times that of women. Nearly every one of the 14 bullet point focuses on women – six do not mention men at all, and of those that do mention men, sometimes it’s merely as an aside, as in this point: “Firearms are now the leading method of suicide in women, as well as men.” There is only one bullet point that does not mention women.
Where are the hearings discussing this obvious problem? Why aren’t those in the public health sector discussing it? Why aren’t medical doctors and counselors being trained to recognize the symptoms and offer help to men who are particularly at risk?
The lack of coverage of the fact that men are much more at risk of suicide, the fact that there are no government programs specifically designed to help men cope with the factors that lead to suicide and the unbalanced focus on women proves once again what many have pointed out over the years; women are generally seen as more valuable than men, and a woman’s life lost is a tragedy. A man’s life lost? It’s just another man.