A generation of middle-aged men born in the 1950s and 1960s have been identified as the group most likely to commit suicide in Britain.
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the total number of men aged between 45 and 59 taking their own lives was nearly 40% higher in 2012 than it was less than a decade earlier, and this statistic has continued to surge.
Interestingly, the same generation were at the centre of concern about high suicide rates among young men around 20 years ago.
The figures also show that men living in areas dominated by heavy industry tend to be the most susceptible to suicidal thoughts – with suicide rates in the North West and North East of England showing the highest levels.
Experts believe it is due to the decline of heavy industry and major social changes of the 1980s and 1990s that this particular generation of men is at the biggest risk of taking their own lives. The loss of traditional male breadwinner roles – particularly in communities once dependent on male dominated industries – is a leading explanation.
These figures are of particular concern as there has been a decline in suicide rates in Britain over the past few years. The ONS revealed that a total of 5,981 people took their own lives in 2012 which was 64 fewer than the previous year.
The overall number of suicides in Britain now stands at 11.6 per 100,00 people, but the rate among men in their early 40s currently stands at 25.9 per 100,000 people – almost two and a half times the national level.
Furthermore, a quarter of all suicides in Britain involved men aged between 44 and 59, among whom the rate now stands at 23 per 100,000. This is 26% higher than it was nine years earlier.