If for some reason you’re still holding out hope that some of the “public health experts” you see all the time in the national news media actually care about the public, or health, consider the story that did not dominate the news cycle this week. Here’s the headline: “49,449 Americans killed themselves last year.” The data just came in a few days ago. That’s the highest number of suicides ever recorded in this country’s history.
If you viewed that as a problem worth solving as quickly as possible — as any decent person would — then you’d dive much deeper into that data. You’d want to know who exactly is committing all these suicides. You’d want to know their age, sex, race, occupation, and so on. And then you’d present your findings honestly, as a starting point to address the problem.
But no one from any major media outlet or public health institution is doing that. They’re not even trying. Instead, we’re getting quick-hit reports like this one, from Good Morning America:
What the doctor tells us is that “veterans, physicians, and LGBTQ youth” are particularly at risk. She doesn’t delve more deeply into the numbers, though, and neither does anyone else in that segment, which lasts less than two minutes.
You have to wonder if that’s deliberate, because there’s a certain demographic group that’s somehow missing from the ones the doctor mentioned there. It’s a demographic group that commits suicide at a far higher rate than any other — and has for many years: men. Last year, men accounted for roughly 80% of suicides. Let me say that again: 80%. Men living in rural areas were particularly vulnerable. As of the latest data, men working in the professions of “mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction” have the single highest per capita suicide rate in the country, at more than 54 deaths per 100,000 men. Construction is the next-highest category. Ask yourself why Good Morning America made special mention of “LGBT youth” and “physicians” but forgot to mention that nearly all of the suicides are men, and blue-collar men in particular are at the highest risk.
You’d hate to think that media producers in New York don’t want you to hear about the fact that men are killing themselves. You’d like to believe they care about miners, or oil and gas workers, and not just physicians. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Most outlets are doing exactly what Good Morning America did. In their writeup on the data, for example, Reuters didn’t mention the difference between male and female suicide rates at all. Instead, they implied — in the second paragraph of their article — that the problem is not enough gun control. The real problem, according to Reuters, is that you haven’t given the Democratic Party more power. This is a very dumb conclusion to draw, first because it’s an assault on our constitutional rights. But also because getting rid of guns would simply eliminate one of the dozens of possible ways for a suicidal person to commit suicide. It would not do anything to address the fact that he is suicidal in the first place.
This is a longstanding trend in the media. Scour through the last year of coverage on suicide rates in this country, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone talking about how many men are killing themselves. To the extent you do find any reports on men committing suicide, it’s always filtered through some forced lens of racial equity and BLM. Here are just a few examples from recent months:
There’s an epidemic of suicides by black men, the media insists. Is that true? Here are the numbers from the CDC, to the extent you can trust them. Last year white Americans accounted for more than 37,000 suicides, while black Americans accounted for a little over 3,800 suicides. Accounting for population differences, that means white people are killing themselves at roughly twice the rate of black people. That’s in keeping with data we have going back the past few years — data that’s widely known. In 2017, the New York Times ran a whole story about how black people were about one-third as likely to kill themselves as white people. Of course, the Times suggested there was some unknown flaw in the data that explained the disparity. They hand-waved it away.
What’s going on here? Why are so many media outlets unwilling to talk, honestly and directly, about the suicide rate afflicting men in this country?
Whatever the reason, they’re not just hiding data on suicide rates. They also rarely talk about all the other obvious, verifiable signs that men are suffering in this country, in ways they never have before. Approximately 70% of homeless people are men. And the total number of homeless people in this country has more than doubled in the last three decades. Meanwhile, men are far more likely than women to use — and overdose on — virtually every illicit drug that exists. The number of these overdoses has increased dramatically in just the past 20 years.
Look at this chart. Fewer than 20,000 people overdosed in 1999. In 2021, the number was over 100,000. Men account for the vast majority of these deaths. Women are nowhere close. Along the same lines, young men report that they’re single at more than twice the rate of young women. Statistics concerning unhappiness and depression are similar. We all know that men are far more likely to end up in prison, to drop out of school, to fall victim to violent crime, etc.
What’s causing this? Is it random statistical noise? Is it some combination of globalization, feminism, #MeToo and modern monetary theory? No one seems to care, which tells you a lot. To find anyone talking honestly about these problems, and what’s causing them, you have to turn to YouTube personalities. For example, here’s one YouTube channel’s attempt to address what’s happening to men in this country. This person begins by talking about social media, the rise of dating apps, and the decline of the economy, among other factors. Here’s her conclusion:
There’s a lot of truth to what she’s saying, obviously. And that video has 1.5 million views in just the last week. You can tell that people are desperate to find answers to this problem, but they can’t look to the corporate media to provide it — or even to acknowledge that the problem exists. What this YouTuber, who goes by the name ShoeOnHead, talks about would go a long way towards explaining the rise of despair, loneliness, and listlessness among men. But she ends her video without offering any solution. So what is the solution, exactly?
That’s where this conversation really starts to break down. To show you what I mean, here’s one corporate media outlet that is willing to acknowledge some of the struggles men face, but the prescription they offer is downright terrible. It would be hilarious if the issue wasn’t so dire. The article from the Washington Post — written by a woman, of course — is impressive in one sense, which is that it manages to reach exactly the wrong diagnosis on every single aspect of the problem. The article is called, “Men’s groups are embracing an alternative conception of American masculinity.”
The whole thing reads like parody, so if you’re able to, check it out immediately. I can’t recommend it highly enough. The Washington Post wants to give us the real story about why men are lonely and how best to combat the epidemic. What’s their suggestion? They say dudes should lie around doing breathing exercises and smelling incense while some guy named Rua gropes them and whispers stuff like this:
“I invite you to maybe bring up an intention. How you want to live in this world. How you want to love in this world. How you want to be in this world.”
That’s not an exaggeration. It’s a direct quote from the article. The men’s groups that the article profiles are not Bible studies or flag football leagues. They are new age, touchy-feely group hugs, where men learn how to get in touch with their feminine side. Later in the session, the men start screaming and sobbing and letting their emotions “flow freely” as they are “released into the darkness.” The article goes on to quote a bunch of experts who all say the familiar things about how men are lonely and lost because of toxic masculinity that encourages us to be too stoic and reserved, and so forth. It laments the “cowboy mentality” that has allegedly contributed to the problem. The masculinity “expert” who coined that phrase is a woman named Niobe Way.
She of course quickly identifies the real victims in the story of male loneliness: women. She says:
“Women end up being the therapist for their husband, and more are getting sick of it.”
Yes, God forbid wives have to listen to their husbands and offer them solace and comfort. They’re “sick of it,” says masculinity expert Niobe. This is not a conflicting message at all, is it? On one hand, men need to open up more, but on the other hand, if they do open up then they are putting an unfair burden on their wives, who are being asked to do too much emotional labor. Okay then. By the way, women, if you feel like you’re sick of hearing about your husband’s troubles, just keep in mind that he hears about your’s about a thousand times more often.
Meanwhile, a consultant named Mark Green says this:
“If a boy expresses too much emotion or too much need for connection, is too giddy, is too joyful, what we say to that boy is, ‘What are you, a sissy? What are you, a girl? What are you, gay?’ It’s your job to dominate those around you, or you will lose status, and that will increase the number of individuals above you who can dish out dominance to you. And what we find is that in that system, in that structure, men are constantly in competition with each other and constantly driven by this sense of anxiety.”
The problem with this theory is obvious. If a “cowboy mentality” and too much macho stoicism is what is driving the epidemic of lost and lonely men, then why is the problem getting worse over time? Everyone agrees it’s worse now than ever before. I just went through some of the many statistics that prove this. There is a major problem. Men are in bad shape.
But if that is all getting worse, then how can we blame traditional notions of masculinity? There’s no doubt that it is far less common for boys to be called “sissies” these days, or labeled “gay” as a pejorative, than it was 50 years ago or at any other time in human history. Indeed historically, the push for a man to be strong, dominant, and unemotional was much more pronounced than it is today. In fact, if a man didn’t exhibit those traits, then he would die and his whole family would die. It’s only in recent times that it’s even been a feasible option for men to be feminine, soft, and in touch with their feelings. And it’s also in recent times that men have lost all sense of themselves and their purpose and place in the world.
Speaking of the cowboy mentality, why didn’t actual cowboys have these problems? If a cowboy mentality leads to despair and suicide, then we should find a whole hell of a lot of it if we look back at the latter half of the 19th century, which was the era of the cowboy. But we find no such thing. The Post’s overall thesis can probably best be summarized in this sentence from the article:
“American men’s isolation stems in large part from a pervasive cultural belief, experts say: that men should be self-reliant and hide their emotions, especially from other men.”
The absurdity of the premise could not be any clearer. Would anyone argue that the cultural belief that men should be self-reliant and hide their emotions is more pervasive today than it was half a century ago? Of course not. So, again: if that is the cause of the problem, why is the problem worse today? The trends are clearly going the other way. The correlation works entirely in the other direction. As society loses traditional notions of masculinity, suicides increase. This is undeniable. You can try to explain that correlation away all you want, but if you deny it or pretend it doesn’t exist, you lose all credibility in this discussion.
Now, these “experts” are correct that men need fellowship, and men are missing it these days. But they even miss the point on that end too, because they encourage men to fellowship in the way that women fellowship. They tell men to sit around and talk about their feelings and so on — do some yoga, listen to soft music, and hold each other and cry. This is not the kind of fellowship men need or want. We can’t expect corporate media’s masculinity experts to understand this, because their masculinity experts are all effeminate. But any normal man can attest that men tend to bond while engaging in a shared activity — usually one that doesn’t require a lot of talking. Sitting and watching the game. Fishing. Golfing. Playing pickup basketball, and so on.
I went out fishing with my brother-in-law a few weeks ago. When we came back my wife asked me what we talked about. I said we really didn’t talk about much of anything. Mostly we talked about fishing. She was shocked and confused, because women don’t operate this way. But men and women are not the same. And you cannot hope to help men, or offer them any road map out of despair, if you don’t start by acknowledging that basic fact.
When it comes to true male fellowship, the problem is that society has closed off many of the opportunities for this kind of fellowship. There are no men’s lodges anymore, few bowling leagues and that sort of thing. Most men’s spaces have either been shut down or feminized. It has been decided that men should socialize like women, and with women, or not at all. This is the message across the board. Society beckons to men and tells them that their salvation is to be women. And then we wonder why so many are killing themselves. We live ultimately in a matriarchal society with institutions either run by women or by effeminate men, who in their arrogance simply cannot accept the fact that men are different from women, and have different needs and desires.
So this is the real problem. It’s not that men are too focused on masculinity. It’s that masculinity has been neutered, castrated, driven out of society, leaving men feeling lost and without purpose. Our notions of masculinity aren’t too traditional. On the contrary, they aren’t nearly traditional enough. The solution isn’t that we sit around and talk about our feelings. It’s that we do a whole lot less of that sort of thing, and get back to being men again. And if we can be men in a society that embraces and values our masculinity, suddenly this tide of male loneliness and despair will start to ebb. That is the solution. There is no other.
If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.