Deep depression can have tragic consequences. Photo: ©James Bareham

Deep depression can have tragic consequences. Photo: ©James Bareham

Middle Aged Men and Suicide – Help

15th May 2013 by Graham Scott @grahamfellow

Suicide – not the easiest, lightest or most amusing of topics. Warning – this post contains statistics; and no jokes were harmed during its creation.

In Great Britain alone nearly 3000 middle aged men are killing themselves every year. In the USA the situation is considerably worse, as we’ll see. Yet where’s the uproar, the demand that something be done?  Middle aged males are at greater risk of suicide than any other group, yet virtually all research has been aimed at the young or the old. So why isn’t there a great outpouring of sympathy and action from the liberal media?

Because those at greatest risk are middle aged males. Drill down and you find that if you’re white your risk is even higher. And if you’re from a lower socio-economic group your odds just got dramatically worse. So, working class, middle aged white men are most at risk. That’s why you won’t get a screeching liberal Twitterstorm about it.

UK Numbers – Worse Than War

And it’s easy to go snowblind with all the numbers which just sit there in little tables looking nothing like real life. But here’s some to at least consider. In very rough terms, in each decade of life (ie, say from 45-54 years of age) around 900 men will kill themselves in those middle years. The comparable figure for women is about 30% of that.

Those are the figures for 2010 and they’re up again in 2011. That means that, in the UK, if you’re a middle aged man, then about 23 men like you out of every 100,000 people will kill themselves this year. With a total of near 3000 that represents the total of all the Allied troops killed on D-Day. Think of all those bodies on the beaches, Juno, Sword, Gold and Omaha – that’s how many grown up men kill themselves in the UK every year. But, like I say, the situation in the USA is noticeably more horrifying.

US Figures Are a Car Crash

In America the number of suicides now surpasses the numbers killed in car crashes – 2010 saw 33,687 people die in crashes, but 38,364 killed themselves. And, obviously, the bulk of those are middle aged blokes. In fact, for men in their 50s the rate has jumped a catastrophic 50% just this century.

As I mentioned above, in the UK around 23 middle aged white men per 100,000 people will kill themselves, but that equivalent figure in America is now a startling 34 per 100,000. Okay, you’re probably getting sickened by the numbers but just let me give you three final figures for the USA in 2010:

21,754 – the total number of men and women, in middle age, who killed themselves

16,635 – the number of men in that total

14,379 – the number of white men in that total

See that? If you’re a black man the figure’s not going to be 14,379 it’s going to be 766 (or if you’re a black woman it will be just 204). Sure, white people are still around 70% of the US population, but even so, the relative rates are still dramatically higher for white men.

Now What?

Governments and charities and others have all pledged to do more, more research, more government money etc, but one of the biggest steps has been taken by the charity the Samaritans. All credit to them. They spotted the trend in 2012 and launched a report (here) which threw up many of the issues behind the dramatic rises. The ‘We’re In Your Corner’ campaign is aimed specifically at middle aged blokes and the materials on their site are well worth looking at. This seems to be a UK initiative, but the USA site is also in your corner. (See the links below.)

Rather grimly, they launched it in partnership with Network Rail, and that’s not because they’re offering concession fares if you contact them. Which leads to the final point on this, that men are historically much more likely to actually kill themselves if they do attempt it, and they also tend to do so in much more violent, definite ways than women employ. None of this is good at all.

So, apologies for all the facts and figures, but this is a big issue and it’s only getting worse. Today, as you read this, about 10 middle aged blokes will kill themselves in the UK, about 45 in the USA. Every single day. Fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, uncles, friends, best mates.

Help Yourself, Help Others

If you’re in this area yourself then Step 1 is to talk about it, don’t bottle it up. The Samaritans (contacts below) would be a very good, non-judgemental place to start, or else friends and family are usually considerably more helpful and supportive than you might think if you’ve gone into a bad place in your head.

This is not a one-way street, you can turn around and head back at any point. Watch this BBC video (here) to see what the outcomes can be – it’s 12 minutes long and personally I find the whole tone of the interviewer, as if they’re whispering in church, rather irritating and gooey, but the points are very well made.

In future posts we’ll be looking at why people get into this place and some of the routes back to the light, but for now, if you’re a happy chap, keep an eye out for your mates. If they look like they need to talk – then really listen. If you want to contact us then please do so and we’ll do everything to help, without being judgemental or hysterical or finger-wagging. We really are all in this together.


The Samaritans UK. Tel: 08457 90 90 90

The Samaritans UK:

The Samaritans USA:

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