Suicide rates in men are soaring
According to the Office for National Statistics, suicide is the primary cause of death in men under the age of 50.
Compared to 1981, when 63% of suicides were male, today that figure stands at 78%.
Clearly there is something about being a man in 2015 that makes them far more likely to take their own life. This is particularly shocking considering more women than men are diagnosed as depressed.
Suicide tends to be a symptom of depression, and these new statistics suggest men are not receiving the mental health support they need to cope with the demands of modern-day life.
One of the key issues here is that often men find it difficult to speak up and get help. In the 21st century, there is still an overriding belief that a man should be strong and masculine, and shouldn’t show signs of weakness.
The stigma that surrounds mental health conditions such as depression also makes it difficult for people – both men and women – to seek help.
Despite growing awareness of the illness, depression is still largely viewed as a character flaw rather than a health problem.
In many ways, the death of much-loved actor, Robin Williams in August of last year made the world sit up and take notice of depression in men.
Yet despite the realisation that something urgently needs to be done to encourage more men to come forward and seek help, the ONS findings suggest there is still a long way to go before significant changes are made.
Journalist and writer for The Telegraph, Matt Haig – who became ill with depression 15 years ago – says:
“For men, it is doubly hard [to talk about depression] because we are not really encouraged, by ourselves mainly, to talk about being ill.
“Even if we have a cold we are belittled for having ‘man flu’.”
He explains that in order for things to improve, society’s perception of mental health and men need to change.
“So let’s take men out of their narrow emotional box. Let’s talk openly about what we feel, especially when what we feel could be damaging us,” he says.
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