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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