Masculinities, emotions and men's suicide.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sociology of Health and Illness: a journal of medical sociology, 2021, 43, (4), pp. 910-927
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Men account for approximately 75% of the one million annual suicide deaths worldwide. Emerging research indicates a link between suicide and men's active pursuit of hegemonic masculinity via emotional restriction. However, little is known of the continuum of suicidal men's emotional practice, and particularly how men mobilise emotions to actively pursue or resist hegemonic masculine ideals. This theorised life-history study aimed to explore the emotional lives of 18 Australian men who had attempted suicide. Findings indicate that men in this study experienced a range of emotions. However, during childhood, they learned that expressing emotions such as sadness reduced masculine standing, whereas expressing emotions such as anger through acts of violence could enhance masculine status. Although the gendering of emotions offered participants multiple avenues of action to pursue or contest masculine ideals, they remained vulnerable to suicide. For some men, it became impossible to conceal escalating feelings of distress. For other men, displays of anger and violence resulted in job loss, relationship breakdown or criminal conviction. Many participants indicated that suicide presented a means of ending painful emotions. Paradoxically, suicide could also become an alternative means of demonstrating masculinity, whereby the body became both the vehicle and object of violence.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: