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Suicide is a complex behavior that is widely recognized as a significant public health issue across the globe. It is influenced by a variety of factors, including psychiatric, psychological, biological, social, cultural, economic, and existential factors. In most countries, the rate of male suicides is between three and 7.5 times higher than that of females, even though suicide ideation and attempts are more frequent for females.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1,993 suicides occur in Ghana annually. Studies continue to reveal a disproportionately high number of males in both suicide and attempted suicide in Ghana. Suicidal behavior in Ghana is a predominantly male problem, which is one reason it is of interest to psychologists who study men's mental health.

One study focused on the way the loss of job and income influenced relationships with close family members prior to suicide. This is not to suggest that loss of income or job is the only cause of men's suicide in Ghana. Other studies have highlighted chronic illness, substance use, interpersonal conflict and loss, marital challenges, economic difficulties, perceived shame, and mental illness as other contributing factors.

The study used a qualitative research approach, interviewing 21 close relatives and friends of nine men who had all suffered some economic challenges in ways that affected their relationships with family members. All nine had died by suicide.

Even though these men lived in social settings that valued mutual support and reciprocal obligations, some of them suffered abandonment during their economic difficulties. Even those who could depend on spouses in their situation appeared to find that dependency emasculating.

The high male suicide rate is connected to gender stereotypes and role socialization. Society expects certain things of men. The patriarchal nature of most societies in Africa makes being economically independent a key social expectation of being a man. Men are expected to be employed, with a regular income, and to start a family.

The study highlighted Ghana's extended family system, which encourages support and care for one another, belonging, and seeking help in times of adversity. The study found that the deceased men had perceived being a burden, loss of respect, social abandonment, and anxiety when faced with crises like job losses and financial difficulties.

A dysfunctional, transactional social system existed around them. The implicit rule appeared to be that the victims were as valuable as their ability to provide for others and be economically independent.

The finding aligns with an earlier study in Ghana that shows that the motivation for male suicides is not that men seek to reject their social responsibilities. Instead, it is an intense sense of personal responsibility towards meeting prescribed social norms and roles associated with gender.

The study also found that even though it was possible for some of the men to depend on their wealthier wives during economic difficulty, doing so created distress. Depending on their wives and seeing them assume hitherto "male" roles were seen as emasculating.

The findings of this study highlight the patriarchal system that defines men partly in terms of their capacity to provide materially for others. Men who strictly adhere to such male norms may struggle to adjust when they have to depend on others, including their spouses. The extended family system should support such men emotionally and materially, but some family members chose to abandon them.

Public education is vital to change unhealthy gender norms that affect men in social and economic adversity. It will enable men to learn effective ways of coping and alternative ways of being men. Education will also help change societal notions of who a man is and foster more support in times of adversity.