The health of men remains a vital concern in our country, especially since many guys put their own wellbeing on the back burner. The average man is expected to die nearly 5 years earlier than the average woman, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In fact, more than 1 in 5 guys have not seen any kind of health professional in over a year, a report from the National Center for Health Statistics found.
That’s one reason National Men’s Health Week, which runs from June 13 to 19 this year, was created: to raise awareness for the preventable health problems facing men, and to encourage them to seek medical care for them before it’s too late.
Related: The Better Man Project From Men’s Health—2,000+ Awesome Tips on How to Live Your Healthiest Life
This year, we’re shining a spotlight on the 7 most common man-killers. We’ll report on one every single day. Learn what can raise your risk and how to protect yourself from them—so you don’t become another statistic.
Man-Killer #7: Suicide
Each year, over 33,000 men die from suicide each year, according to data from the CDC.
This accounts for 2.5 percent of all deaths among men, making it the 7th leading cause.
What’s more, suicide actually ranks as the second most common cause of death for every age group for men 10 through 39, the data shows.
“I think there’s a silent epidemic of male suicide,” says Mark Kaplan, Dr.P.H., a professor of social welfare at UCLA. “For as common as it is, you don’t hear many people talking about it.”
What Raises Your Risk
Losing your job or your girlfriend is a big factor.
“In one of our studies, over 47 percent of men who committed suicide had a reported intimate partner problem,” Kaplan says.
What’s more, men who commit suicide often suffer from “cognitive myopia”—or a feeling that they’re trapped by life’s circumstances, he says.
“Suicide is often less about psychological issues like depression, and more about existential or life problems,” he adds.
Related: Why Are Suicide Rates Rising For Middle Aged Men?
Factors to Watch Out For
Proximity to guns can play a part, too.
People with access to guns are three times more likely to commit suicide than those who don’t keep firearms around, according to a 2014 study.
“There’s little doubt having a gun in your household increases the likelihood of it being used for suicide,” Kaplan says.
Combining a lost job or other life crisis with alcohol and firearms is often a tragic recipe for men, he adds.
How to Keep Yourself Safe
“Men who are single or socially isolated are most vulnerable,” Kaplan says.
In general, men tend to be more resistant than women are to seek mental health help. And that may explain why men die from suicide at more than three times the rate women do, according to the CDC.
So if you’re thinking about suicide—or notice you’re drinking more than you used to cope with your problems—find someone to talk to, he advises.
Related: Why Every Man Should See a Therapist
“It could be a partner or psychologist, or just your doctor,” he says. “Don’t keep what you’re feeling bottled up.”
*Editor’s note: Check back to the National Men’s Health Week page every day this week for an updated list of the top mankillers. We’ll release the sixth most-common killer of men tomorrow.