Engaging in family care work prevents risk of suicide in men

New York, Jun 20 (IANS): While suicide rates are generally higher in men than in women, but those who indulge in family care work are less vulnerable to take their lives, according to a new study.

The study, led by Colorado State University researchers, found that that men's suicide mortality is related to their private-life behaviours, specifically their low engagement in family care work -- not just the adversities they may encounter in aspects of their public lives, such as employment.

Men tend to overinvest in the role of an economic-provider, and underinvest in family care work -- a pattern that leaves them vulnerable when economic-provider work is threatened or lost, according to Silvia Sara Canetto Canetto, Professor of Psychology at the varsity.

In the study, family caregiving was defined as, for example, providing personal care or education for a child, and/or providing care for a dependent adult.

The researchers examined suicide, male family caregiving, and unemployment in 20 countries, including the US, Austria, Belgium, Canada and Japan.

Suicide rates were found to be lower in countries where men reported more family care work, showed the study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

In countries where men reported more such care work, higher unemployment rates were not associated with higher suicide rates in men. By contrast, in countries where men reported less family care work, higher unemployment rates were associated with elevated male suicide rates. Incidentally, unemployment benefits did not reduce male suicide rates.

Taken together, the findings suggest that men's family care work may protect them against suicide, particularly under difficult economic circumstances, Canetto said.

Men's greater involvement in family care work would also relieve women of their disproportionate caregiving load, and give children more resources.

The findings suggest incorporating support for engagement in family care work in programmes aimed at reducing men's suicide mortality.

"This means expanding beyond dominant frameworks of men's suicide prevention with their employment-support focus," Canetto explained. "It also means going beyond treating suicide as just a mental health problem to be solved with mental health 'treatments."



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