The geographic caste of suicide underlines the communitarian argument made by Emile Durkheim in his classic work, Suicide. Durkheim stressed that men (note that men kill themselves at much higher rates than do women) are more likely to commit suicide when they get disconnected from society’s core institutions (e.g., marriage, religion) or when their economic prospects take a dive (e.g., unemployment). So, men are more likely to thrive and survive when they have a job, a wife, and a community connection to a church or some other group that grounds their lives.
Unemployed men are 126 percent more likely to kill themselves than their employed counterparts. And as we’ve written before, unemployed men are generally unappealing candidates for marriage, hurting their romantic prospects and increasing their sense of alienation. Unmarried men are a whopping 240 percent more likely to take their own lives than married men.
Perhaps most shocking about this story is the relative silence with which it has been met. If women were taking their lives in record numbers, largely due to their inability to find employment or husbands, you could bet that federal tribunals, support groups, and cries for policy change would abound. But thousands of men take their own life, lost in the shadows, and much of the press seem content to let the stories remain there.