British men in their early 40's have the highest suicide rate

At work yesterday, I listened to a discussion on Radio two about male suicide in the UK and was desperately saddened by what I heard. Formerly, men statistically most likely to take their own lives were those in their early twenties. Now though, the suicide rate for men in their early forties is at four thousand a year. Why the change?

Many men feel isolated from society. There are many reasons but the biggest factor of all is due to the recession and all the repercussions that follow. Loss of jobs, relationship breakdowns, talking about problems being seen as taboo.

The mid thirties to mid forties are a crucial time in a man's life. It's make or break time for his career, to meet the right woman and possibly have children. There is also increasing pressure in the economic environment to please everyone and be someone that others can rely on. Too much pressure inevitably leads an individual to 'burn out'. They spend all their time chasing their tail making sure the mortgage is paid, their boss is happy with them, their wives and kids are looked after. They are looking after everyone but themselves. Is it any wonder that they feel so helpless? It really is a tragic situation and the economy shows no indication of improving. There is it would seem, no light at the end of the tunnel.

Put bluntly, modern, materialistic, consumer culture drives men to suicide. Society expects men to deal with their problems internally. Talking about it is seen as a weakness. Women find it easier to confide in others and to do so is perfectly acceptable. Men can find it very difficult to open up and bottle up their anxiety, seeing suicide as the only way out.

Men born in the late sixties and early seventies were part of the 'golden generation'. They were promised the earth, everything was obtainable and if you wanted it, you could have it. Credit was available for anyone and everyone. When you're young, anything seems possible, when you're middle aged and you haven't got the right career, house, car, wife, kids, you are made to feel as if you have failed. You just don't have the energy anymore and feel that it's too late. We are bombarded constantly with images of the 'perfect life'. The more you are subjected to them the more of a failure you feel.

Men that do find the courage to approach their Doctor are told that counselling waiting lists are two years long! It just isn't good enough and more needs to be done! Society is constantly making us feel that we should be better, have more possessions, a bigger house, a better car and more exotic holidays. Expectations in the work place if anything have become higher as jobs are so scarce.

Men born in the late sixties and early seventies have lived through huge changes. The catch phrase for the generation was 'Loadsamoney' from a satirical character created by comedian Harry Enfield, emulating the greed and 'we want it now' money grabbing culture so resonant in the nineties. Times have changed and people aren't able to 'flash the cash' as they could then. Those that bought or sold property at the right time were quids in but those that didn't can feel that they are not worthy of being part of that selfish society anymore.

Men need to be encouraged to talk about how they feel. Isolation is dangerous. How many disillusioned individuals are feeling like they can't cope with life anymore as you read this?

Copyright © Tara Carbery

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Comments 16 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Hey Tara!

4000 per year in the UK or worldwide? I missed it if you did mentioned that. Interesting and sad phenomenon for sure, and your explanation made perfect sense. I suspect, with the state of the economy, that the numbers are going to rise in many age groups. I hope I'm wrong.

Well done my friend!


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK Author

Thanks Bill. 4,000 in the UK alone. I got the figure from 'Mind UK' and it was quoted on the Radio 2 programme. I feel that a society that encouraged people to 'spend spend spend' owe it to us to deal with the tragic consequences when no one can ever live up to their standards. Thanks so much for reading and leaving your thoughts. You are a star.


Inspired to write profile image

Inspired to write 4 years ago from Wales UK

This is very sad, so many folk being unable to cope with the negative affects of society & all that it brings. I hope something can be done for anyone in despair.

Thanks for sharing your work & for bringing up a very sensitive & important issue.

Regards Dale


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK Author

Thanks Dale. It is tragic that people feel like this. It really got to me when I listened to some of the men being interviewed. Many of them said they were only here for their children or pets, they felt there was nothing else to live for. So heartbreaking when they are only halfway through their lives.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Wow, interesting, informative and insightful article. I hadn't stopped to think how men feel in these economic poor times. It is good to see the other half and their feelings and take on all this going on in society. It is so sad that men of this age group are turning to suicide as the answer to feeling lost and worthless. These times are tough everywhere and thank you for bringing this to light. Voted up!


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK Author

Thanks Suzette. It's weird because I was so consumed with how bad I felt with losing my teaching career, losing my house and struggling to find another job etc. It wasn't until I heard this discussion that it dawned on me how difficult it is for men. I can have a good moan to my friends, it's not so easy for them. It really opened my eyes to their plight. Life is tough at the moment and we all need support.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Don't know about the western societies, but in my country most of the suicides are because of poverty and domestic violence.

But anyway, you have written about interesting phenomena.


DDE profile image

DDE 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Men are more suicidal than women sometimes stressful lives lead to bad moments thanks for the eye-opener


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK Author

Hi Vinaya, ironically, poverty plays a significant part in this rise of suicides in the UK and we're meant to be a wealthy nation! Many are extremely wealthy and many are struggling to survive. There is it seems no middle ground. It's getting worse each day too.


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK Author

Hi DDE, It's very difficult for men to confide in someone. It can be seen by some as 'weak'. Everyone needs to talk about their problems. Bottling it up is going to end in tears.


Deadinside 4 years ago

I'm afraid I know how it feels, its not just macho crap - I try to ask for help and get a lot of "have a fight to sort it out" bullshit from men and women. Women have actually been a lot more vicious and unforgiving. It's not just having the ability to ask for help, its the odious culture of rejecting men who do.


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK Author

I'm really sorry you feel like this. I wish I could help in some way. We can feel so alone and trapped in an unforgiving world at times. It is so wrong that Men are made to feel like this. I hate the 'pull yourself together attitude.' People that say such things may experience depression for themselves one day and only then will they realise how hideous and dehabillitating it feels.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

...well then if that's the case I am glad that I'm Canadian and in my early 50's and besides those British men should be reading your hubs like I do and extending their lives and improving the quality of it too - sending you warm wishes from ontario, canada lake erie time 4:49pm


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK Author

Hi Epi! Lovely to hear from you as always. Life over here is very troubled for so many in these economic times. There are so many people with mental health problems and there is nowhere for them to go and no one for them to turn to. Very very sad indeed.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

I am very very sorry to hear this my friend - well I live alone without any family anywhere in the world and on the poverty level and suffer from situational depression and stress - but I have a strong creative mind, relative good health and two of the best friends that a guy could ever have in my cats Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel. And I have lovely cherished memories of my other two best friends my mum and dad - sending you good thoughts from lake erie time ontario canada 7:54pm


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK Author

You are lucky indeed to have your two loyal fluffy friends. I don't know what I'd do without my Muppet and Buffy. They make everything bearable. There is a lot to be said for creativity and imagination. Not everyone has that escapism. Thank god we can write about it! Have a wonderful day over there.

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