Report reveals male suicide risk


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The Independent Online

Middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds are 10 times more likely to commit suicide because they have lost their masculine pride and identity, a report has found.

The report, commissioned by helpline charity Samaritans, explored the reasons for suicide beyond mental health problems in men aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

It found that on average about 3,000 middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds take their own lives each year.

The research showed that men from low socio-economic backgrounds who lived in deprived areas were 10 times more likely to commit suicide than men from high socio-economic backgrounds living in more affluent areas.

The Men and Suicide report revealed that males compare themselves against a "gold standard" which measures power, control and invincibility.

And if men feel they are not meeting this standard, which is set from a previous working class generation, they feel a sense of shame, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.

The report states: "Men in mid-life are now part of the 'buffer' generation, not sure whether to be like their older, more traditional, strong, silent, austere fathers or like their younger, more progressive, individualistic sons.

"The changing nature of the labour market over the last 60 years has affected working class men.

"With the decline of traditional male industries, they have lost not only their jobs but also a source of masculine pride and identity."

Lack of companionship can also contribute to the high suicide rate in this group, the research found.

Stephen Platt, Samaritans trustee and University of Edinburgh health policy research professor, said this high risk demographic can no longer be ignored.

"Men are often criticised for being reluctant to talk about their problems and for not seeking help," Professor Platt said.

"With this in mind, we need to acknowledge that men are different to women and design services to meet their needs, so they can be more effective.

"We also need to look at the economic and social inequalities that contribute to people wanting to take their own lives."

The release of the report coincides with the launch of the Samaritans' We're in Your Corner campaign, which is part of a five-year partnership with Network Rail to reduce suicides on the railways.