STUMP » Articles » Movember 2022: The Sex Gap in Suicide » 23 November 2022, 08:17

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Movember 2022: The Sex Gap in Suicide  

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23 November 2022, 08:17

While what got me into fundraising for Movember myself in 2017 was prostate cancer, I also have an interest in suicide prevention.

But wait, let me link to the important stuff first:

Movember Fundraiser

First, here are the places you can donate to the Movember Foundation, which supports men’s health, specifically focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s mental health:

Those are the two official links I have via Movember, and they’ve given me “official assets” to play with to promote the fundraiser, as I’ve raised over $6,600 for the org since 2017.

That picture is from a long time ago – that little boy is 6 feet tall now.

I read the news today, oh boy

Unfortunately, there is almost always a current events hook to suicide prevention.

Power Rangers’ star Jason David Frank died by suicide after arguing with wife: report

“Power Rangers” star Jason David Frank reportedly died by suicide after allegedly getting into an argument with estranged wife Tammie Frank on Saturday.

Tammie – who filed for divorce from the actor in August – began feuding with Jason after they checked into two separate rooms at a hotel in Texas on Friday, law enforcement sources told TMZ.

Well, it’s all gossip, and who knows right now. There are many possibilities. The Power Rangers were a show in my own young adulthood, and Jason David Frank was only a year older than me.

No matter the truth about his death, what is undeniable is that the suicide rate for men has had a bad trend. I remarked upon it last year.

I will update the numbers and break it down for you.

But first!

Some happier stuff

Look, the stuff above from the news is not happy, and I have some even worse news below. It took me a long time to write about suicide trends. When Robin Williams died in 2014, I knew I needed to write about it, but it took me three years before I did – I started the post in 2014, and actually posted it in 2017. The things I wrote about in 2017 were nasty and it will be nasty below.

So if you want to peace out, let me give a few happier things before you leave.

First, an actuarial joke book (no, wait, don’t leave!)

This is compiled form the tweets of Actuary Problem Dog, and no, you don’t necessarily have to be an actuary to understand (all) the jokes. John Lee, who compiled and edited the book, is raising funds for mental health charities with the book. Link to Amazon US (with my referrer code): The Best Tweets From Actuary Problem Dog: 10 Years of Statistically Insignificant Humor

(disclosure: I appear in one of the exchanges, and I also reviewed the selections before publication, along with some other folks.)

Second, I’ve been listing things that give me joy (note: things, not people). One a day.

Enjoy!

Now, back to the death trends.

Suicide age-adjusted death rate for men has surpassed prostate cancer’s

Two things are going on to make this happen.

First is due to good news: the great decrease in prostate cancer mortality — so huzzah to that! Part of the crossover is, indeed, due to one mortality rate coming down by a huge amount.

But it’s also due to bad news: in the last twenty years, the suicide age-adjusted death rate for men has increased almost 30%.

In this post, I’m not going to break it out by age, but it’s mainly due to younger men dying by suicide more. This also trends with what we’re seeing with death by drug overdose, and I will do a future post for Movember on young men and suicide and drug ODs as well.

The sex gap for suicide is much worse than for all-cause mortality

One can make a ratio between the age-adjusted death for males versus females, for all causes of death and for specific causes of death.

The ratio when it comes to suicide is hideous.

The “normal” mortality gap is that males have 40% higher mortality than females, on an age-adjusted basis.

When it comes to suicide, that gap is about 300%. This has persisted for decades.

The only reason this gap “improved” in recent decades, while suicide rates for men worsened, is that women’s suicide rates were getting worse faster.

Rather than talk these ratios and rates, which I know can get confusing, let me show you the two trends on one graph:

So, female suicide rates did increase more from 2001 to 2021 (45% cumulative increase), but it was coming from a much lower trough, so the 2021 rates are lower than their 1968 rates.

For males, while they “only” increased 27% from 2001 to 2021, they were starting from a higher point, and the rates we saw in 2021 were higher than we’ve ever seen before.

You don’t need to be an actuary to know this is bad.

Raising money for men’s mental health

Going back to my fundraiser for Movember. As I noted, my primary motivation has been raising funds surrounding prostate cancer, but the Movember Foundation supports Men’s Mental Health, too.

So you don’t have to scroll back up, here are the two links to my fundraiser (they’re the same fundraiser, just two different methods):

Thanks!


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