Warning: this may be a trigger for some people.
In recent years, we’ve seen some shocking suicides take place in the public eye; from Robin Williams to Chester Bennington, and Chris Cornell. What’s worse, is that often a suicide of one, can spur more, and a massive four out of 10 men are said to have considered suicide. But what’s behind these suicides, and how can you help someone you care about?
Every year, the Samaritans collate data on suicide, and publish a report. They’re the only organisation to collect these stats and present them, and they do incredible work throughout the year, offering help to those who need it. They’re always on the end of the phone, or an email, and they extend their services for free, to everyone. You can find out how to contact them, here.
The 2017 report showed there were 6,213 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland, and in the UK, men were a massive three times more likely to end their life, over women. In Ireland, the figure jumped even higher, to make it four times as likely.
The report showed it was middle aged men that were most likely to commit suicide in the UK, between the ages of 45-54, and suicide in young men in Scotland has accelerated for three years running. The Samaritans have previously suggested this age group is a ‘buffer generation’, where a group of men are stuck between two sets of ideals. They’re the leftover men from a ‘man up’ culture where it was the manly thing to do to hide emotions, not talk about them. This shows how much stigma is still a problem.
‘Suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide.’
International Association for Suicide Prevention
Some of the things that can increase the likelihood of suicide is traumatic childhoods, bullying, and resorting to alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms—both of which can increase impulsivity, and emphasise that isolating feeling of despair. Another factor that can trigger suicidal tendencies is a breakup, or a bereavement, especially for men living alone. While women are more likely to talk about their emotions, reach out for help, and keep their friends close, men are less likely to do so—something that can be problematic for a man who perhaps relies on his female partner to keep contact with friends and family strong. Male friendships have also been found to take a downturn after 30 too, meaning men can feel they have even less people to talk to.
Since 2008, there has been a massive jump in mid-life suicide numbers, they’ve almost doubled with a climb of 40%. It isn’t a coincidence that the rate increased directly after the world entered an economic meltdown, resulting in job losses (jobs are often seen as very important to male identity) and less economic opportunity. It may also not surprise you to learn that men with poor socioeconomic circumstances are 10 times more likely to commit suicide than those who have a more comfortable life. There’s also a problem with men on benefits who don’t feel valued by society.
So what can you do to help someone you’re worried about?
If someone tells you they’re feeling suicidal:
Who to call?
Whether you’re encouraging someone to call for their mental health, or you’re concerned about them and need someone to talk to yourself, we have a list of numbers you can call.
CALM 0800 58 58 58
Helpline and web chat service runs between 5pm and 12am every day.
Samaritans 116 123
24-hour service, contactable by email or phone, every day of the year. The number doesn’t show up on phone records.
MIND 0300 123 3393
Contactable between 9am-6pm Monday to Friday.
Papyrus 0800 068 41 41
Prevention of young suicide, contactable between Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, and 7pm to 10pm. Weekend opening hours are 2pm to 5pm.
Maytree 020 7263 7070
A sanctuary for the suicidal.