How much do you know about male suicide?
What is the definition of suicide?
It’s Men’s Mental Health week 15th – 21st June 2020 and a timely reminder to repost this article, Facts about male suicide.
Trigger warning; the topics covered in this article may trigger emotional responses and you may wish to stop reading now.
The term suicide describes the intentional act of taking one’s own life. In this article, we’re talking about suicide in the conventional sense, where someone acts upon self-destructive thoughts and feelings.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) definition is: Suicide includes all deaths from intentional self-harm for persons aged 10 and over. Suicide also describes deaths caused by injury or poisoning, where the intent was undetermined for those aged 15 and over.
UK statistics for male suicide
The incidence of completed suicide is vastly higher among males than females among all age groups in most of the world. As of 2015, almost two-thirds of worldwide suicides (representing about 1.5% of all deaths) are committed by men. The following figures come from ONS
- In 2018, there were 6,507 suicides registered in the UK, an age-standardised rate of 11.2 deaths per 100,000 population
- Three-quarters of registered deaths in 2018 were among men (4,903 deaths)
- The UK male suicide rate of 17.2 deaths per 100,000 represents a significant increase from the rate in 2017
- Males aged 45 to 49 years had the highest age-specific suicide rate (27.1 deaths per 100,000 males); for females, the age group with the highest rate was also 45 to 49 years, at 9.2 deaths per 100,000
- As seen in previous years, the most common method of suicide in the UK was hanging, accounting for 59.4% of all suicides among males
What are the risk factors for attempting suicide?
- Mental health disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines.
- Those who have previously attempted suicide are at higher risk for future attempts.
- Having a family history of suicide or impulsive behaviour is also believed to increase risk of suicidality.
- Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress i.e. financial difficulties, relationship problems such as breakups, or bullying.
- When there’s an economic downturn, resulting in increased unemployment, for example, there tends to be an associated increase in suicide – typically 18-24 months after the downturn, BBC. One 2015 study found that for every 1% increase in unemployment there is a 0.79% increase in the suicide rate, NCBI.
- Older men are at increased risk for suicide, and they complete suicide at a higher rate than any other age group. They’re especially at risk because they don’t usually seek counselling for depression or other mental illnesses, Psychcom.
- Other risk factors can include:
- Access to firearms
- Isolation from others
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Having a terminal or chronic illness
- People can become suicidal when they feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, lack hope for the future, and they see no other way out
What symptoms might you notice?
The obvious sign of someone who’s considering suicide would be talking about it, saying things like “I’m going to kill myself”, “I wish I could jump in front of a train” or “I feel like jumping off that bridge”. However, there are many other signs that can indicate risk and the more there are, the higher the risk for suicide:
- being depressed, sad and low
- not taking interest in usual hobbies
- increased anger, agitation, anxiety, shame, guilt or humiliation
- isolating self from others, not taking calls or answering the door
- stockpiling pills or sourcing a weapon
- driving recklessly
- increased aggression, agitation
- not communicating with friends or family in usual way
- giving away possessions or writing a will
- increased drug and alcohol use
- searching out suicide information on the internet
- wishing you didn’t exist or that you’ve never been born
- feeling like a burden to everyone, that there’s no purpose to life and feeling hopeless or worthless
The above list is not exhaustive and you may have other symptoms. If you’re experiencing the above symptoms regularly, please speak to your GP or another mental health professional. If you’re reluctant to seek treatment, talk to someone you trust, like a loved one, a friend or faith leader.
Last but not least
Suicide is a hugely sensitive issue and the very nature of a death by suicide means we can’t fully know the reasons behind it. And talking about it can be really scary but the more open we are, the more likely we are in helping someone seek the support they need.
Some people think that if you ask someone if they’re having suicidal thoughts, you’ll put the idea in their head. This isn’t true and if you suspect that someone is considering suicide, it’s really important that you do ask them directly “Are you thinking about suicide?” Don’t be afraid to do this, it will actually decrease their risk because someone is willing to talk about it. If they do tell you that they’re having thoughts of suicide, offer to stay with them and to listen. If they have the method and means to kill themselves, do not leave them alone and let them know you need to contact someone of their choice. But do not place yourself at risk. Encourage them to talk and to seek urgent professional support, helping them find it if necessary.
Over to you
As with my last post, for those of you who are not mental health professionals, did you learn anything new? For those of you ‘in the know’, have I missed something/anything? I’m looking forward to your comments, suggestions or questions.
In the meantime, you might find the following articles useful:
- What you must know about depression here.
- Useful tool for self assessment of depression here.
- 19 free mental health apps just for you here.
- ITV’s This morning programme recently put together this useful list of helplines where you can find more information and advice:
NHS Choices – Suicide
Comprehensive help and information from NHS Choices with links to external websites.
Tel: 116 123
Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Please call 116 123 email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of the nearest branch.
Text Shout to 85258
Shout is the UK’s first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.
MindInfoline: 0300 123 3393
Mind helps people take control of their mental health. We do this by providing high-quality information and advice, and campaigning to promote and protect good mental health for everyone.
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Helpline: 0800 58 58 58
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) works to prevent male suicide and offers support services for any man who is struggling or in crisis. CALM’s helpline 0800 58 58 58 and web-chat are for men in the UK who need to talk or find information and support. The services are open 5pm–midnight daily and are free, anonymous and confidential. For access or to find more information visit thecalmzone.net
Helpline: 0800 11 11
ChildLine is a counselling service for children and young people. You can contact ChildLine in these ways: You can phone on 0800 1111, send us an email, have a 1-2-1 chat with us, send a message to Ask Sam and you can post messages to the ChildLine message boards.
Helpline: 0808 802 5544
Parents’ Information Service gives advice to parents or carers who may be concerned about the mental health or emotional well being of a child or young person.
Helpline: 0808 808 4994
Life’s tough, we know that. It can throw a lot your way and make it hard to know what the hell to do with it all. So, welcome to The Mix. Whether you’re 13, 25, or any age in between, we’re here to take on the embarrassing problems, weird questions, and please-don’t-make-me-say-it-out-loud thoughts you have. We give you the information and support you need to deal with it all.
Students Against Depression
Students Against Depression is a website offering advice, information, guidance and resources to those affected by low mood, depression and suicidal thinking. Alongside clinically-validated information and resources it presents the experiences, strategies and advice of students themselves – after all, who are better placed to speak to their peers about how depression can be overcome.
Tel: 020 7263 7070
At Maytree, we provide people in the midst of a suicidal crisis with the opportunity for rest and reflection, and give them the opportunity to stay in a calm, safe and relaxed environment. We can support four “guests” at a time. The service runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our warm and friendly volunteers and staff team spend up to 77 hours with each guest over their stay, giving them the opportunity to talk through their fears, thoughts and troubles.