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Original Research

Open Access Special Issue

Gender differences in youth attitudes towards suicide prevention during a community-based theater program

  • Joy C. Honea1,*,
  • Sarah N. Keller2,†
  • Vanessa McNeill2,†

1Department of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, Montana State University Billings, Billings, MT 59101, USA

2Department of Communication, Montana State University Billings, Billings, MT 59101, USA

DOI: 10.31083/j.jomh1801020 Vol.18,Issue 1,January 2022 pp.1-15

Submitted: 31 August 2021 Accepted: 08 October 2021

Published: 31 January 2022

(This article belongs to the Special Issue Do men and women differ when it comes to suicidal behavior?)

*Corresponding Author(s): Joy C. Honea E-mail:

† These authors contributed equally.


Background: To explore the differences in young adult male and female attitudes towards and motivations for suicide, beliefs about help-seeking behavior, and attitudes towards helping others to prevent suicide. Methods: In-depth interviews and focus groups with adolescent and young adult males and females (n = 50, ages 14–24) were conducted before and after a community-based play on suicide prevention. Two focus groups and 30 individual interviews (n = 50, 22 males, 28 females) were conducted before the intervention at one location, and 12 in-depth interviews (4 males, 8 females) were conducted with some of the same individuals after the play. The transcripts were coded by two independent coders for gender differences. Emergent categories were analyzed to identify differences in responses to issues surrounding suicide and depression. Results: Three key gender differences were found in communication styles around emotional vulnerabilities: (1) Females were more likely to talk about the importance of reaching out to others and giving counsel, while males were more likely to expect others in need to seek them out for help. (2) Females talked about psychological distress as something ”everyone” experiences, while males tended to see their suffering as an individual phenomenon. (3) Females tended to advocate disclosure while males talked about the pressure not to talk about personal problems. Conclusions: Young males and females may need different coping strategies, and interventions, therefore, must be tailored to address the needs of each gender separately. Campaigns and programs specifically for men should address the barriers that men face with disclosure and help-seeking, and strategies should be sensitive to the expectations of heteronormative masculinity.


Gender differences; Suicide; Help-seeking behavior; Suicide prevention

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Joy C. Honea,Sarah N. Keller,Vanessa McNeill. Gender differences in youth attitudes towards suicide prevention during a community-based theater program. Journal of Men's Health. 2022. 18(1);1-15.


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