In terms of age, gender and socio-economic status, the group most at risk of suicide are middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2012, we explored why this group is vulnerable to suicide.
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To understand why middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds are more vulnerable to suicide, Samaritans commissioned five leading social scientists to go beyond the existing body of suicide research and look at the issues facing this groups.
We also wanted to hear from men themselves. We interviewed 12 men, living across the UK and Republic of Ireland, who have had suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide at some point in their lives.
We found that a range of factors that can play a role in suicide risk for middle-aged men, including:
- Personality traits
- Challenges of mid-life
- Relationship breakdown
- Emotional illiteracy
- Socio-economic factors
You start wondering, am I up to standard, am I good enough?’ That’s how it starts and if you say it enough times, you start to believe it.
Phil, 32. Samaritans report, 'Men, suicide and society: Why disadvantaged men in mid-life die by suicide'
Suicide in disadvantaged men in their middle years is a health and social inequality issue. Our report made a range of recommendations for policymakers. Suicide prevention policy and practice must take account of men’s beliefs, concerns and context and:
- Recognise that for men in mid-life, loneliness is a very significant cause of their high risk of suicide, and enable men to strengthen their social relationships
- Support GPs to recognise signs of distress in men, and make sure those from deprived backgrounds have access to a range of support, not just medication alone
- Provide leadership and accountability at local level, so there is action to prevent suicide.
Mid-life could be an important time for support services to make a difference in the lives of these men, but they need to do so in ways that work with the grain of the way men cope.
Dr Julie Brownlie. 'Men, suicide and society: Why disadvantaged men in mid-life die by suicide'