By Gill Jackson Associate Trainer for WAW and qualified Psychotherapist.
In recent years the suicide rate in men has steadily increased. Research shows that more women experience suicidal thoughts and more women are likely to attempt suicide however far more men actually die by suicide throughout both the UK and the world.
What are the statistics?
- Someone in the UK dies by suicide every 90 seconds.
- Three quarters of all registered deaths by suicide in the UK are by those who identify as male.
- Men aged 50 – 54 are at the greatest risk.
- In 2021 the male suicide rate was 15.8 per 100,000 population, compared to a female suicide rate of 5.5 per 100,000.
What are the risk factors?
Suicide is a highly sensitive and complex issue, with every individual being different. Often there is no single reason why someone would take such drastic action, and rather its due to a complex number of reasons, such as lifestyle, previous trauma, mental health, relationships, finances etc.
However, some key risk factors and trends for male suicide have been identified via a range of research projects and they include;
- Alcohol and/or drug use/dependence
- Being unmarried, divorced, widowed, or single
- Having a diagnosis of depression
- Low level of education
Warning signs to look out for
Someone considering suicide may exhibit one or more of the below warning signs.
- Pre-occupation with death including thinking about often or talking about it
- Depression or hopelessness
- Alcohol and drug misuse
- Low self-esteem
- Changes in behaviour
- Self-loathing or self-hatred
- Getting their affairs in order like funeral planning and informing loved ones where to find important documents etc
- Social isolation
- Self-destructive behaviours
- A sudden sense of calm or appearing very up-beat following a period of depression
What can you do?
Start the conversation.
Men in particular can be reluctant at times to have deeper conversations about mental health or to seek professional help. A number of charities and organisations, including the UK Government, are really trying to encourage men to open up more, to move past the banter and to have deeper more meaningful conversations about their mental health.
Starting these conversations is really important to help both yourselves and others to open up and share if they are struggling.
It can be really hard when someone shares with you that they are having a difficult time mentally or that they are having thoughts about harming themselves below are a few things to remember;
- Let them share at their own speed.
- Don’t pass judgment or offer advice, just be present.
- Understand that we all experience mental health differently, and that’s OK.
- Following the conversation, check back in and offer to connect them to professional help if they need it.
If you know someone who is struggling, reach out to them. If you, yourself, are struggling, open up to a loved one or a mental health expert. Starting the conversation is an important first step in getting help.
If you are experiencing difficult thoughts, you are not alone, please call the Samaritans on 116-123
Alternatively, you can call NHS 111.
If you are worried about someone’s life call 999.