Men in the Middle Years (MIMY)
This report from the SPRC is the final product of a project that explored the causes of suicide among men ages 35-64 years old in the United States. See the report for full details and recommendations. Here are some key points taken from the report: 
  • Cultural expectations about masculine identity and behavior can contribute to suicide risk among men in the middle years. These expectations can amplify risk factors as well as reduce the effectiveness of interventions that fail to consider how men think about themselves and their relationships to families, peers, and caregivers. These cultural expectations include the following characteristics: Being independent and competent (and thus not seeking help from others), Concealing emotions (especially emotions that imply vulnerability or helplessness) Being the family “breadwinner”—an identity that is challenged when a man is unable to provide for his family (e.g., because he has lost his job)
  • Men receive less behavioral health treatment than women even though mental and substance abuse disorders—especially depression—are major risk factors for suicide among men.
  • Alcohol plays a larger role in suicidal behaviors among men than women.
  • Firearms play a large role in suicide among men in the middle years.
  • Men in the middle years who have employment, financial, and/or legal problems are at higher risk for suicide than women or younger men facing those issues
  • Intimate partner problems and domestic violence are associated with suicide risk among MIMY. Men 35–64 years of age appear to be at greater risk of suicide associated with intimate partner problems than women. Divorce, loss of custody of children, and other relationship issues have the potential to trigger suicides of men in this age group. MIMY who perpetrate intimate partner violence are also at increased risk of suicide.
  • Men in the middle years who are involved with the criminal justice system are at higher risk for suicidal behaviors than other men. More than 40 percent of men in the 35–64 age group who reported attempting suicide also reported being arrested and booked for a criminal offense in the past 12 months. The relationship between suicide risk and involvement with the criminal justice system may be due to the fact that (a) men from lower income groups and men with mental disorders and/or alcohol or drug use disorders are disproportionately involved with the criminal justice system and (b) the stress and shame of being involved with the criminal justice system can in and of itself contribute to suicide risk
  • Veterans in the middle years (a population that is largely male) have a higher suicide rate than their peers who have not served in the military.
  • Gay, bisexual, and transgender men in the middle years may be more at risk for suicide than other men of their age.

Wisconsin Specific Interventions


Decreasing Alcohol Outlet Density

For suicide prevention coalitions interested in creating healthier alcohol environments to decrease suicide rates, we recommend partnering with your local AODA coalition, if applicable. The Alliance for Wisconsin Youth lists AODA coalitions on their website:

For work on alcohol outlet density, we recommend starting with those found on this page>>

The state expert on alcohol-related policy change is Julia Sherman, coordinator of the Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project.  Julia has compiled more recent data (2015-16) on alcohol licenses by county; contact her ( for an Excel file and excellent, free technical assistance on this topic.  

Outreach to Taverns

In 2019. the Northwoods COPE Coalition of Oneida, Forest, and Vilas counties ran a coaster campaign in local bars and taverns that featured both the local and national crisis numbers and a link to Heads Up Guys website that raises awareness for men's mental health. This is a great example of how to partner with local bars to better connect patrons with resources they may need for their mental health. Click here for a news article on that campaign 


Means Reduction

Guide on Lethal Means and Suicide Prevention Released (Action Alliance, Lethal Means Stakeholder Group)

Gun Safety

Means Matter Gun Shop Project 

Means Matter began working in 2009 on a novel project in New Hampshire to reach out to gun shops on the role that they can play in suicide prevention. The work is guided by the NH Firearm Safety Coalition, a group of mental health and public health practitioners, firearm retailers, and firearm rights advocates. The project developed materials with and for firearm retailers and range owners on ways they can help prevent suicide. Its objectives are to: 1)Share guidelines on how to avoid selling or renting a firearm to a suicidal customer 2) Encourage gun stores and firing ranges to display and distribute suicide prevention materials tailored to their customers.

Safe Communities Dane County Gun Shop Project

Safe Communities launched a replication of New Hampshire’s Project Connect Gun Shop Project in 2016. As of 2017, 15 gun shops are participating and two gun shops went on to develop safe gun storage for people experiencing a suicidal crisis, and development of guides and “contracts” to facilitate the process of safe storage.Click here for a link to Safe Communities Gun Shop Project website 

The Essential Shooting Supplies store in Mt. Horeb, part of the Gun Shop Project, established a safe gun storage process.. A person or family can bring however many guns they need to, drop them off at Essential Shooting Supplies, pay five dollars for a safety check and cleaning service and sign a simple contract. The firearms are then marked with a tag that notes the guns are not for sale. The back of the tag has a number, not a name, keeping everything anonymous. When a person or family is through their crisis, the guns can be picked up.

In September 2019, a bill was introduced in WI to fund statewide suicide prevention training for gun shop owners and gun range retailers. The bill is still in the review process as of 2020.   


Prescription Drug Take Back Programs 

Take Back My Meds is a coalition dedicated to making it easier for Milwaukee County residents to combat the opioid crisis by safely disposing of unused prescription medicine at a growing network of secure drug take back locations. This can help prevent suicide by restricting prescription drugs as a means of suicide by overdose. 

For a directory of drug take back drop boxes outside of Milwaukee, click here


Other Suicide Prevention Resources for Men 

Man Therapy 

Man Therapy is a tool designed to help men with their mental health. It uses humor and media to connect men and their families to facts, resources, and help in grappling with ongoing negative emotions.

Talk Like a Man: Communication and Connectedness for Men in the Middle Years

This webinar and related handouts explore the socialization and culture of men in the middle years. It is designed to help mental health care providers use effective messages to promote connectedness among men in their middle years.