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Masculinity, unemployment and other factors combine to increase suicide risk.
Middle-aged men are one of the most high-risk groups for suicide – they remain three times more likely to take their own lives than women.
Our 2012 report, Men and Suicide: Why it’s a social issue, investigates why and sets out what policy-makers can do to change this.
You can read about our approach and recommendations on this page or download the full report below.
Our report looked at 6 key themes:
- Personality traits – some traits can interact with factors such as deprivation, unemployment, social disconnection and triggering events, such as relationship breakdown or job loss, to increase the risk of suicide.
- Masculinity – more than women, men respond to stress by taking risks, like misusing alcohol and drugs.
- Relationship breakdowns – marriage breakdown is more likely to lead men, rather than women, to suicide.
- Challenges of mid-life – people currently in mid-life are experiencing more mental health problems and unhappiness compared to younger and older people.
- Emotional illiteracy – men are much less likely than women to have a positive view of counselling or therapy, and when they do use these services, it is at the point of crisis.
- Socio-economic factors – unemployed people are 2-3 times more likely to die by suicide than those in work and suicide increases during economic recession.
To ensure fewer middle-aged men take their own lives, policy-makers should:
- Ensure national and local suicide prevention strategies target men at the highest risk and consider gender and socio-economic disadvantage.
- Design and prioritise interventions to mitigate stereotypes around masculinity and stigma around help-seeking.
- Put in place ambitious policies to tackle the risk factors that can be linked to suicide risk in middle-aged men, including loneliness and alcohol misuse.
- Roll out suicide awareness training programmes for GPs to improve diagnosis and signposting to services.