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Men, Misandry, and Suicide Rates

While having a drink with a friend in a neighborhood bar a couple years ago, a distraught-looking woman approached us and started chatting. We engaged in typical barroom banter until she introduced herself as the mother of a guy I had met in the same bar almost two years before: Mitch, who introduced himself to me then because he recognized me from my column in a local newspaper.

Our conversation lasted only a few minutes, but I remembered the encounter because Mitch seemed to be troubled.

While talking about her son, Mitch’s mother told me that he described having meeting me then with the words, “I talked with the guy from the newspaper.” She also described Mitch’s suicide note to her, and at this she shed some tears. Mitch’s problem, as I learned sometime later, was an addiction to heroin that he could not shake.

By the end of the night I had promised her that I would check out a Suicide Prevention event she was organizing. After that I thought about the suicides that had affected my life in some way:

  1. A school chum of my brother’s shot himself while a student at a Washington, D.C. college in the 1970s. This A student, who used to decorate his bicycle with Barry Goldwater for President bumper stickers, had been on the Dean’s List.
  2. A “full of life” female friend of mine who died of a prescription drug and alcohol overdose in the bathtub of her home.
  3. My uncle who hung himself in a motel after years of drifting from job to job along with fighting bouts of depression and alcoholism. I was 14 when my mother announced his death. He was a tall good looking man who resembled the actor Tyrone Power.

Sometime later I happened upon an article in Psychology Today by Dr. Miles Groth, who posited that suicide among young males is four times more common than among young females. Not only that, but suicide is now occurring at younger ages, in the early teens. With males, Dr. Groth said that one problem may be the relationship between fathers and sons, such as young males not having had a father in boyhood. He cites other issues as well, such as body image and relationships with women. “Young males are very impulsive, more than females, and they act without thinking,” he said.

Dr. Groth elaborated on this theme in a 2014 interview, in which he said that men and boys have come to hate themselves:

This is a result of the image portrayed of them and of the roles they are compelled to play, but also given what they hear about themselves and, especially as young boys, come to believe about themselves. As a result of self-hate, the suicide rate of boys and men has increased at an alarming rate over the last twenty years. It is 4-6 times higher in teenage males than in female peers. The life expectancy of males is about seven years less than for females, compared to a two-year difference a century ago. College courses that are pro-male are now necessary to offset the misandric curriculum.