Men’s mental health struggles often go unrecognized or undiagnosed, and due to widespread stigma and misunderstanding surrounding suicide, deaths by suicide may be incorrectly or mistakenly listed as ‘deaths by unintentional injuries’. As such, many of the statistics below are likely to be under-estimations of the real toll that suicide takes on men, their families, and their communities.

Learn more about how to seek support and help prevent suicide in men on our Suicide page. You can also read our post, How to Talk about Suicide, to learn about common phrases we see, hear, and use that may inadvertently perpetuate stigma related to suicide.

Key statistics around suicide and depression

  • Almost 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, nearly twice the number who die by homicide. (1)
  • For every death by suicide, there are approximately 20 suicide attempts made. (2)
  • Each death by suicide leaves behind a community of bereaved family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. For every death by suicide, at least 7 to 10 people are directly affected by the loss. (3)  
  • Research shows that mental illness is the most important risk factor for suicide. More than 90% of people who die by suicide struggle with their mental health and/ or addiction. (4)(5) Researchers estimate that up to 60% of people who die by suicide have major depression. (6)(7)

Men and Suicide

Men account for 75-80% of deaths by suicide

  • Canada: In Canada, men account for 3 out of every 4 suicides. Roughly 8 men take their life every day, amounting to 3,000 deaths per year. (8)
  • UK: In the UK, where nearly 12 men lose their lives to suicide every day, men die by suicide at rate 3 times more often women. (9)
  • USA: In the United States, the suicide rate among males is 4 times higher than among females. Male deaths represent 79% of suicides, amounting to roughly 105 men who die by suicide every day. (10)(11)

Suicide is a leading cause of death for men under age 50

  • Canada: Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for men under the age of 50. (12)
  • UK: Suicide is the single largest cause of death for men under the age of 50. (9)
  • USA: Suicide is the 2nd most common cause of death for men under the age of 45. (11)

Men are much less likely to get help for their mental health

According to a meta-analysis looking at 20 studies across North America and Western Europe, 19.7% of men (fewer than 1 in 5) had contact with mental health professionals in the year leading up to suicide, compared to 35.0% of women. (13)

  • Canada: According to a 2005 survey of 132,221 Canadians, Canadian men were found to be 2.7 times less likely to utilize mental health services than Canadian women. (14)
  • UK: Only 36% of referrals to the United Kingdom National Health Service for talk therapy are for men. (9)
  • USA: In the year before suicide, only 35% of men, on average, sought care from a mental health practitioner. (15)

Thoughts of suicide are common among men

16.2% of HeadsUpGuys Self Check submissions reflect daily thoughts about suicide.

  • Canada: In 2019, 1,666,200 Canadian men over the age of 15 (roughly 9% of the male population) reported that they have seriously contemplated suicide in their lifetime. (16)
  • UK: According to a 2007 national survey, 6.1% of men 16+ reported having thoughts of suicide within the past year. (17)
  • USA: In 2015, roughly 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older thought seriously about trying to kill themselves in the previous 12 months, and males and females were found to have similar rates .(18)

References:

  1. World Health Organization. (2014). Preventing suicide: A global imperative. World Health Organization. https://ourworldindata.org/suicide#suicide-is-a-leading-cause-of-death-especially-in-young-people
  2. World Health Organization. (2019, July 8). Suicide prevention. https://www.who.int/health-topics/suicide#tab=tab_1
  3. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2021). Suicide in Canada – Canada.ca. Government of Canada. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/suicide-prevention/suicide-canada.html
  4. Weir, E., & Wallington, T. (2001). Suicide: the hidden epidemic. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 165(5), 634–636.
  5. Mościcki, E. K. (2001). Epidemiology of completed and attempted suicide: toward a framework for prevention. Clinical Neuroscience Research, 1(5), 310–323. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1566-2772(01)00032-9
  6. Cavanagh, J. T., Carson, A. J., Sharpe, M., & Lawrie, S. M. (2003). Psychological autopsy studies of suicide: a systematic review. Psychological medicine, 33(3), 395–405. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0033291702006943
  7. Lesage, A. D., Boyer, R., Grunberg, F., Vanier, C., Morissette, R., Ménard-Buteau, C., & Loyer, M. (1994). Suicide and mental disorders: a case-control study of young men. The American journal of psychiatry, 151(7), 1063–1068. https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.151.7.1063
  8. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2020). Suicide in Canada: Key Statistics (infographic) – Canada.ca. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/suicide-canada-key-statistics-infographic.html
  9. Mental Health Foundation. (2021). Men and mental health. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/m/men-and-mental-health
  10. Curtin, S. C., & Hedegaard, H. (2019). Suicide Rates for Females and Males by Race and Ethnicity: United States, 1999 and 2017. National Center for Health Statistics. https://save.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/rates_1999_2017.pdf
  11. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Leading Causes of Death – Males – All races and origins – United States, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/lcod/men/2017/all-races-origins/index.htm
  12. Statistics Canada. (2020). Leading causes of death, total population, by age group. https://doi.org/10.25318/1310039401-eng
  13. Walby, F. A., Myhre, M. V., & Kildahl, A. T. (2018). Contact With Mental Health Services Prior to Suicide: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Psychiatric Services, 69(7), 751–759. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201700475
  14. McDonald, B., Kulkarni, M., Andkhoie, M., Kendall, J., Gall, S., Chelladurai, S., Yaghoubi, M., McClean, S., Szafron, M., & Farag, M. (2017). Determinants of self-reported mental health and utilization of mental health services in Canada. International Journal of Mental Health, 46(4), 299–311. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207411.2017.1345045
  15. Luoma, J. B., Martin, C. E., & Pearson, J. L. (2002). Contact With Mental Health and Primary Care Providers Before Suicide: A Review of the Evidence. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(6), 909–916. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.159.6.909
  16. Statistics Canada. (2020b, August 6). Mental health characteristics and suicidal thoughts. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1310009801
  17. Spiers, N., Bebbington, P., Dennis, M., Brugha, T., McManus, S., Jenkins, R., & Meltzer, H. (2014). Trends in suicidal ideation in England: The National Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys of 2000 and 2007. Psychological Medicine, 44(1), 175-183. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291713000317
  18. Piscopo, K., Lipari, R. N., Cooney, J., & Glasheen, C. (2016, September). Suicidal thoughts and behavior among adults: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. NSDUH Data Review. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/