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Men's Health: Alcohol, Mental Health, & Suicide

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Men's Health: Alcohol, Mental Health, & Suicide

POSTED ON: 09/27/2023

While browsing information related to mental health and Suicide Prevention Month, we found some interesting statistics. Did you know that in 2020, about 80% of all deaths by suicides were men? Other years have similar data. Why is that?

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — a time to raise awareness of this stigmatized topic. We use this month to shift public perception, spread hope, and share vital information to people affected by suicide. [The] goal is ensuring that individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and to seek help. [Source: NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website]

What does mental health and suicide have to do with Smart Start?

While we're not mental health experts and don't claim to be, we do care very much about our clients. Not all of our customers struggle with mental health problems or alcohol addiction. In fact many of our customers just made a simple mistake which resulted in a DUI but otherwise lead healthy, productive lives. But some of our customers and potential customers do struggle with mental health issues and/or alcohol addiction. And sometimes our interlock devices can play a very small part in recovery from alcohol addiction. A large percentage of our customers are men so seeing such alarming statistics for men's mental health is something we'd like to pass on. 

Why are men are more likely to die by suicide than women?

According to a study, women are twice as likely as men to experience major depression, yet women are one fourth as likely as men to take their own lives.

The study's abstract mentions that men value independence and decisiveness, and they regard acknowledging a need for help as weakness and avoid it. Women value interdependence, and they consult friends and readily accept help. Obviously there's a lot more to it than just that, but this is a worrisome trend for men.

Alcohol & men's health

The CDC posted information under the heading "Excessive Alcohol Use is a Risk to Men’s Health":

  • Males are more than three times as likely to die by suicide than females, and more likely to have been drinking prior to suicide.
  • Among drivers in fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes, men are 50% more likely to have been intoxicated (i.e., a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater) compared with women.
  • More than three-quarters of deaths from excessive drinking are among males, totaling more than 97,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
  • Men have higher rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations than women.
  • Alcohol use is one of the most important preventable risk factors for cancer. Alcohol use increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon, which are more common among men. Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and may increase the risk of physically assaulting another person. Alcohol is a key risk factor for sexual violence perpetration.

Mental health is so important

Mental health is such an important topic in today's world. Finding healthy ways of coping with the stress of life can be challenging. 

When you're stressed or upset, you may find comfort in a beer or cocktail. If you're just drinking alcohol occasionally and not using it as a primary method of drowning out your worries, there's probably no harm in having a drink. But why does alcohol cause major issues for so many people who drink it?

Many people drink alcohol because it makes them feel relaxed or happy. It may make you feel more comfortable in a group setting, and it may even make you forget about your problems temporarily. But alcohol is actually classified as a depressant.

A link between depression and drinking (plus possibly even suicide and drinking)

According to American Addiction Centers, "alcohol can exacerbate the effects of certain conditions – including anxiety and depression. In some cases, excessive alcohol consumption can even lead to suicidal thoughts or tendencies." 

According to NAMI, alcohol is included in both a warning sign of suicide (specifically "increased alcohol and drug use") and a risk factor of suicide (specifically "Intoxication. Analysis from the CDC indicates around 1 in 5 people who die by suicide had alcohol in their system at the time of death.").

Are you drinking because you're depressed or are you depressed because you're drinking? According to many sources, it may be both. A big portion of people with severe depression also have a drinking problem. Apparently the depression often comes first, but the two conditions can impact each other.

If you're drinking small amounts in social settings and you're not getting behind the wheel after you drink, there is probably no harm in having that cocktail. But if you find yourself drinking to drown your worries and alcohol is affecting your mental health, you may need to reach out for help.

How we can help in the fight against alcohol addiction

Some people convince themselves that drinking is always fine as long as they don't get behind the wheel after. But you have a lot to gain from dealing with alcoholism and mental health concerns. If you or a loved one are feeling depressed or are turning to alcohol in an unhealthy way, you should definitely seek medical attention from someone trained to deal with these tough issues. If you need help monitoring alcohol use, call us about voluntary use of our automobile breathalyzer or portable alcohol device.


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