On World Mental Health Day, which this year has the theme of suicide prevention, Samaritans is calling for better support for men, to address the persistently high rate of suicide among less well-off
A survey by Samaritans found that less well-off middle-aged men are less likely to reach out for support compared to other men. But also, when they do, the services often aren’t right for them.
Three quarters of suicides in the UK are by men, with the highest suicide rate among men aged 45-49. Men who are less well-off are up to 10 times more likely to die by suicide than more well-off men. The risk of suicide is also significantly higher among the unemployed, compared to employed people.
Ruth Sutherland, Samaritans CEO said: “Two thirds of people who take their own life are not in touch with mental health services before they die, the majority are men in this group, but the Government has no plan for reaching them. A lack of tailored healthcare combined with inadequate support for complex social issues puts less well-off middle-aged men at higher risk.
“Alongside improvements in mental health care, complex social issues are more likely to affect this group and this needs to be tackled. A plan to reach the two thirds of people not in touch with mental health services before they die would be particularly beneficial to less well-off middle-aged men. That plan needs to involve all government departments and interventions should be created that directly tackle issues linked to poverty such as unemployment, substance misuse and addiction. Government should also embed suicide prevention in all areas of policy, for example, in housing and welfare to tackle inequalities.
“Suicide is an issue that affects everyone, but we know that a disproportionate number of men take their life, so we must not sit still, we need to see change.”
Samaritans’ survey found almost 2 in 5 less well-off middle-aged men don’t usually speak to anyone when they’re finding life tough. This is more than two times higher than men in other age groups and/or higher incomes.
The survey also showed that only 3 in 10 men on lower incomes who visited their GP for emotional support found the service very helpful - compared to more than half of men on the highest incomes. The survey found the reasons for not finding the services very helpful include not being referred to the right services, not having enough time to talk through their problems, and not being asked the right questions by their GP. Despite this, most of these less well-off middle-aged men say they would go to their GP again if they needed emotional support in the future. It’s essential that when this group do reach out, the services are ready to meet their needs and support them properly.
Notes to Editors
- Samaritans (2012). Men, Suicide and Society. Why disadvantaged men in mid-life die by suicide. Surrey: Samaritans.
- Samaritans (2017). Dying from inequality. Surrey: Samaritans.
- NCISH (2018). National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide into suicide and safety in mental health. [online] University of Manchester. Available at: http://documents. manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=38469
- The online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 3,000, 18+ years old men in UK. The research fieldwork took place between 28 February- 6 March 2019. The dataset was weighted to ensure national representation by age and region. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code.
- Low income or less well-off is defined as those with a household income of less than £17,500 per year. This includes all sources of income, before tax and other deductions.
- The highest income is defined as a household income of £50,000 or more per year. This includes all sources of income, before tax and other deductions.
- Full income brackets were:
- 1 - Up to £9,499
- 2 - £9,500 - £17,499
- 3 - £17,500 - £29,999
- 4 - £30,000 - £39,999
- 5 - £40,000 - £49,999
- 6 - £50,000 or more
- Middle-aged is defined as 40-59 years old
- Samaritans Media Guidelines on reporting suicide can be found here
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