In 2013, 78 per cent of the 6,233 suicides registered in the UK were men. That’s a rate of 19 deaths per 100,000 population.
That more men take their own lives than women is not new. But in 1981 the men’s total was only about double, or just under, the women’s.
Now it’s nearly four times as many.
Historically, people between the ages of 40 and 64 have had one of the lowest rates.
To complicate matters, baby boomers are now sliding into the over-65 demographic, an age group that historically has had one of the highest suicide rates.
Making matters worse, suicides among middle-aged men with mental health issues have soared by 73% since 2006, which may be attributed to a combination of alcohol, job loss and debt, as compiled by the University of Manchester’s National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness.
Oh boy. Want more?
“Our findings show that within mental health care, middle-aged men are particularly at risk,” said Prof Louis Appleby, the director of NCISH who was formerly the government’s mental health tsar and leads the national suicide prevention strategy. “The problem is not simply that they don’t seek help – they are already under mental health care – so we have to understand better the stresses men in this age group face.”
How about this?
More men in the UK have died by suicide in the past year than all British soldiers fighting in all wars since 1945.
I’m neither a Sociologist or Psychiatrist. In fact, my only authority in this area is interpersonal exchange and an open heart, for which I have earned several Doctoral Degrees.
Men my age and socioeconomic niche are, generally speaking, over-achievers. They made their “piles” working hard, passionately over many years.
Many have been married and divorced a few times over.
The majority have children somewhere.
Now they’re smack in the middle of the Baby Boom generation, with nowhere to go and nothing to do that they haven’t already been done a thousand times before.
Only this time around, they’re older – a lot older – with far less time to enjoy life the way they did when the journey started.
It’s a small window of opportunity in which to reinvent oneself before everything becomes a hobble along a windswept beach on the edge of oblivion.
With this as a backdrop, here are my 5 top reasons middle-aged men off themselves:
Heterosexual men in mid-life are dependent primarily on female partners for emotional support.
One reason for this is that they’ve never explored anything beyond sports stats with their “friends.”
Women, on the other hand, maintain their independent relationships throughout life – divorce notwithstanding – which is one reason they outlive us.
To wit, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts were three times higher among divorced men, and two times higher among separated men compared to married.
This is the quintessential dichotomy about men: While we love sex, we love relationships more.
2]Reluctance to seek help
Professor Shirley Reynolds, from Reading University, said one of the reasons for the rise in suicides is the fact only around ’15 per cent of men with depression and anxiety seek help’.
Most men my age practice intimacy-avoidance. They’d rather swallow a pack of Gillette straight razors than open up about clinical depression.
For one thing, depression is not manly. Men don’t suffer depression unless it’s tied to warfare, in which case it’s called PTSD, an acceptable acronym.
Anything else is an indication that you’re either gay and in denial, or didn’t get into enough fistfights when you were a kid.
In either case, you’re screwed in the eyes of middle-aged frat boys who are themselves gay, and in denial.
Okay, I know a few people who put bullets in their heads when the market crashed in 2008.
Not having any money after have a shit-ton of it sucks more than just about anything else, excluding colon cancer, which is a close second.
You lose your house, your cars, your vacations…and usually, your wife.
So now you have nothing at age “60” and have no interest in starting over at Dairy Queen.
I get it. Use the gun. 30 years mopping floors or flipping burgers just isn’t worth it.
Plus you’ll never get laid again as long as you do happen to live.