Samaritans urges men to look after their friendships

Strong friendships are important for good mental health, yet men are less likely to turn to their peers for emotional support as they reach middle age, research has found.

Middle age is the time that men are most at risk of suicide, so as part of Men’s Health Week 2016, Samaritans is encouraging men to make time for their friendships and to be there for each other.

A report by Samaritans has looked at men, suicide and society and considered men’s personal relationships in mid-life and the difference between male and female relationships.

As women age they continue to maintain close, nurturing friendships, however it has been shown that men are less likely to turn to their male friends as the first port of call for emotional support, relying more on their partners to help them get through tough times.*

Men do have emotionally meaningful friendships, which are important to them, however they do not tend to talk to their friends about emotional issues on a regular basis and prefer friendships based on companionship through doing activities together.

Men in mid-life are dependent primarily on female partners for emotional support, which for some can mean experiencing unexpected feelings of loneliness when a relationship breaks down.

Recent research has also found that men tend to have more casual friendships and may not be as emotionally close to their friends as women are.**

Paul McDonald, Samaritans, Executive Director, said: “We know that men, particularly men in middle age, are at an increased risk of suicide. Having someone to talk to can make a big difference to the way you feel.

“We want to encourage men to nurture their friendships so that they can talk to each other when times are tough.

“Samaritans believes it is important to recognise that for men in mid-life, loneliness can be a significant cause of their increased risk of suicide. Because of this Samaritans encourage men to strengthen their friendships this #MHW2016 and beyond, by reaching out and increasing their support network,” Paul said.




*Men, Suicide and Society

**Bhattacharya K, Ghosh A, Monsivais D, Dunbar RIM, Kaski K 2016 Sex Differences in Social Forms across the life cycle in humans. R Soc. Open sci 3: 160097

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The theme of this year’s Men’s Health Week in the UK is Beating Stress.

  • Anyone can contact Samaritans; you don’t have to be suicidal. Whatever you’re going through, call us free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email, or visit to find details of your nearest branch.