The gender paradox: understanding the role of masculinity in suicidal ideation

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Griffin, Laura, Hosking, Warwick ORCID: 0000-0003-4707-5483, Gill, Peter ORCID: 0000-0001-7772-4849, Shearson, Kim ORCID: 0000-0003-3354-092X, Ivey, Gavin ORCID: 0000-0002-5537-3504 and Sharples, Jenny ORCID: 0000-0003-2885-9899 (2022) The gender paradox: understanding the role of masculinity in suicidal ideation. American Journal of Men's Health, 16 (5). ISSN 1557-9883


It is important to understand the role of social determinants, such as gender, in suicidal ideation. This study examined whether conformity to specific masculine norms, particularly high self-reliance and emotional self-control, moderated the relationship between psychological distress and suicidal ideation for men. The other norms explored were those pertaining to behavioral–emotional or social hierarchy status aspects of masculinity, and whether they moderated the psychological distress–suicidal ideation relationship for men and women. The Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory, the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, and the Suicidal Ideation Attributes Scale were administered to an Australian community sample in an online survey ( n = 486). As predicted, higher psychological distress was associated with higher suicidal ideation. Self-reliance enhanced the relationship and was the only moderator among men. High self-reliance levels might be an important indicator of risk, which can be used when assessing and working with men who are hesitant to openly discuss suicidal ideation with clinicians. For female participants, higher endorsement of behavioral–emotional norms and lower conformity to social hierarchy status norms appear to increase suicide risk in the presence of psychological distress. Our findings suggest that high self-reliance is of particular concern for men experiencing psychological distress. It is also important to consider the roles of masculine norm endorsement in the psychological distress–suicidal ideation relationship among women.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1177/15579883221123853
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5205 Social and personality psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords men's health, mental health, suicidal ideation, masculinity, gender
Citations in Scopus 0 - View on Scopus
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