Figures suggest that male suicide is the single biggest cause of death among men in the UK under the age of 45, but is enough being done to tackle the issue and help those in need?
Three quarters of suicides in the UK are by men and, according to new figures from the Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm), there were a shocking 4,623 male suicides in the UK in 2014 alone.
In contrast, female suicides have fallen by almost 40 per cent, from 2,466 in 1981 to 1,486 last year.
Now a powerful new campaign is aiming to highlight that alarmingly high rate among men and try and offer better help to guys who are suicidal.
Calm have teamed up with Lynx to launch the #BiggerIssues campaign on Monday which highlights how little attention society gives to male suicide.
The clever social media campaign will update every two hours – representing the tragic statistic that a man takes his life in Britain every 120 minutes.
Speaking to the Guardian, Jane Powell, chief executive of Calm, said:
[There is] no effort to get a handle on the scale of the issue, no support for the suicidal. The figures stay the same because nationally we don’t do anything about it. We don’t look at the position of men in society – we might know that more men take their lives, but this isn’t taken into consideration. When it comes to suicide prevention, we are almost gender-blind.
We don’t look at suicide prevention messages with men in mind, and certainly not with any level of sophistication. Putting a man holding his head on a leaflet isn’t going to work. I’ve seen suicide prevention policies launched with aplomb in parliament, where the actions and budgets have been decided, plans arranged, and yet no thought at that point, the point of the launch, had been given about how to reach men. This beggars belief. No corporate brand aimed at men would get away with such action.
Powell added that male suicide only seems to get coverage in the aftermath of tragic events, like the death of Gary Speed in 2011. Although Professor Green’s recent BBC documentary in which he talked about the death of his father, Peter, who took his own life seven years ago, brought some much needed mainstream attention to the issue.
Calm also hope to raise awareness of why men might feel suicidal, why men may not be keen to discuss their problems (especially with family and friends), and how to spot warning signs that someone might be in trouble.
We see from the research that men feel they shouldn’t need such support, that they are failing as a man when feeling suicidal. The message to men is that to be a real ‘man’ you shouldn’t have such ‘female’ qualities. While I think that life has got much better for women over the past 30 or 40 years, it hasn’t for men.
In the UK, The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.
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