The suicide rate has increased significantly, especially in men. In “Is Social Media Contributing to Rising Teen Suicide Rate",” Sarah Smith argues that the rising suicide rate has multiple contributing factors. Masculinity interferes with men seeking mental health treatment.
Smith says, no single factor has caused the increase in suicide. Individuals with histories of suicidal exposure, abuse, and legal problems have higher chances of suicide. Further, Smith suggests that the emotional well-being of teenagers effect their relationships. Smith uses the emotional appeal of femininity to introduce what may cause suicidal behavior. By doing this, the audiences primary focus is gender specific.
Masculinity is an attitude centered around the strength and independence of men; this attitude affects how men view their mental health. In general, men are less likely to receive help for depression symptoms because it is a psychological weakness. Weakness and insecurity being two things males are taught to avoid, deny, or move past with no issue. This idea results in untreated, internalized emotions that quickly turn into suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Depression in men is left untreated. If treated, it is in later stages, when emotions are overwhelming for most. This is what results in large numbers of suicide for men. This dominant attitude is learned, taught from a young age when gender norms are instilled. For males, gender norms assert dominance and aggression into their role, coupled with masculinity that become toxic, these two are a dangerous combination.
Gender norms for men insert masculine traits; however, perception men have on themselves carries unique significance. An issue will only be acted on when it is perceived as a problem. For example, an individual being physically abused will not leave the situation until their perception reflects that of a victim. Until it is understood that abuse is not part of a well-functioning relationship, change does not occur. This concept applies to men and why they do not act out on mental health issues. Masculinity has created this attitude that depression is abnormal in men, and when men are faced with it, they can handle it on their own. Until a man accepts that he needs help, he will not attempt to receive genuine care. Because of this, men will take longer periods of time to receive genuine care. This results in care at later stages of depression, often too late to reverse permanent damage. Perception for men is an internalized battle, like emotions, against masculinity. As a result, how men perceive themselves make them more vulnerable to suicidal behavior resulting in death.
Masculinity is one factor that interferes with how and when men seek mental health treatment. The confirmed suicide rate for males is higher than females but due to the perception men have on their gender, it is not largely discussed. Issues related to this topic are ignored partially because how society views men, but it is also ignored because of how men view themselves. The character traits associated with the male gender are partially to blame for this unnoticed epidemic. Society does not address issues that are not addressed by those who are being affected by them, in this case, it is the male gender.