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Why are male suicide rates so high?

Why are male suicide rates so high?

This blog is in memory of Joe Lyons, who tragically took his own life in August 2020. Tristan, our Managing Director, and Joe were close friends and house mates in University. This blog explores the increased rate of male suicide in England and Wales and what you can do to help.

Joe Lyons

The statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that the suicide rate in 2019 for men was 11.0 deaths per 100,000 in England and Wales. This is the highest level since 2000. Of the 5,691 registered suicides, men attributed to 4,303 of this number.

The Samaritans state that men aged 45-49 are currently at the highest risk of suicide. It should be noted however, that other age groups are also at risk. In addition, it is true that the most common way of people under 35 in the UK to die is by suicide. There is also a notable trend in recent years, in a marked increase in the number of young women and girls taking their own lives. We will look to cover these demographics and statistics in more detail in future blogs.

What is leading to this increased rate?

Stereotypically, men are said to bottle up their feelings. Historically, men were told to ‘man up’ and never to display any vulnerability or ask for help. Men were usually regarded as the providers to their families.

As noted above, according to the Samaritans, men in the 45-49 age bracket are currently at the highest risk of suicide, with other age groups also at risk. This could stem from insecurities and worries about being able to provide for their families. They may have responsibilities including children. Fear of homelessness, the inability to pay their mortgage or put food on the table or worried about their job security were some of the responses noted by the Samaritans during the pandemic.

The ONS also claims that middle aged men are more likely to be affected by economic adversity, alcoholism or isolation. The feeling of a ‘being a burden’ to people is also linked.

All causes of suicide are complex and never usually related to one single issue.

Roman Kemp

Back in March 2021, Roman Kemp’s released a documentary focused on his own mental health issues as well as paying tribute to his friend Joe Lyons, who died by suicide in August 2020. You can watch the documentary on iplayer here.

Joe and Roman

Following his friend’s death, Roman decided to investigate why so many men are taking their own lives and ultimately, why they aren’t talking about how they feel or what they are going through.

In the show, Roman explores how mental health problems can be related to ideas about masculinity.

"No matter what, there is still an idea that the man is the breadwinner of the family," he says. "The man is the person that has to have a family, has to find the perfect person and be happy with them, have kids and help them financially. And sometimes that pressure for guys is too much."

Dieter Brummer

Dieter Brummer


Dieter Brummer, the 45 year old Australian Home and Away tv star also died by suicide last week. It is claimed that the actor had been struggling financially until an old friend offered him work and he was excited for a new beginning.

According to his last Facebook post, Dieter posted "Thanks for getting me on board, I am looking forward to a future working high above Covid which is 'apparently' 'ravaging' Sydney." Two days later, the New South Wales government paused all construction projects in greater Sydney for two weeks in an attempt to slow down a new surge of Covid cases and the lockdown was a devastating blow for Brummer.

How can you help?

You may not truly know the mental state of your close friends or family members, but there are ways you can help.

Through conversations with experts, and those who have previously attempted suicide or had suicidal thoughts, something as simple as telling a friend you’re there for them on the phone if they ever get to a dark place is vital.

The experience of talking about your mental health can be cathartic. So let your friend or loved one talk and simply listen to them. By having conversations it can help men overcome the sense of feeling entrapped by life. Talking, whether it be on the phone, in person or via text, is often life-saving by providing a platform to allow the person to share their feelings.

Where to get help

  • If you are currently feeling suicidal and don’t feel you can keep yourself safe please seek immediate help. Go to any A&E department or call 999. Keep yourself safe by removing any means of taking your own life while you learn how to cope with the suicidal feelings.
  • If you are worried that someone you know might harm themselves, stay with them and get emergency help.
  • Lots of people fear talking about suicide, however speaking about suicide responsibly is important. It does NOT increase the risk that someone will take their own life. Regularly check in on those you are worried for by text, email, phone or video call.
  • If someone is feeling suicidal, reassure them that it is possible to do something to improve their situation in a caring and sympathetic way. It takes a lot for someone to say “I need help”.

Helpful organisations

Provide free, confidential, 24 hour phone support on 116 123. Alternatively you can email jo@samaritans.org.

You don’t have to be suicidal to ask The Samaritans for help. Visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. They provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

For information, support and advice about mental health problems and where to get support, visit Mind’s website www.mind.org.uk

Prevention of Young Suicide runs HOPELINE UK, a dedicated helpline for people under the age of 35 who are having thoughts of suicide or anyone of any age who wants help and advice about someone under the age of 35.

You can phone 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039 967 or e-mail pat@papyrus-uk.org at any time between 9 a.m. and Midnight, 365 days a year, to talk to a professional Suicide Prevention Advisor.

If you are interested in PAPYRUS’s work in Wales, please contact cymru@papyrus-uk.org and not the HOPELINE UK number.