Suicides In Middle-Aged Men Hit Record Numbers

Thomas Moore, Health and Science Correspondent

Middle-aged men are committing suicide in record numbers because they feel they cannot live up to society's expectations, a new report has warned.

The Samaritans said national statistics show 3,000 men in their 30s, 40s and 50s commit suicide each year, with men from deprived areas 10 times more likely to take their own lives than those from better-off backgrounds.

The suicide helpline charity commissioned a panel of psychologists and sociologists to carry out the most in-depth ever analysis into why the men are at such risk.

And the experts concluded that men feel shame when they fall short of what they see is a "gold standard" of masculinity.

Professor Stephen Platt, report author and health policy researcher at the University of Edinburgh, said middle-aged men are the "buffer generation", caught between their strong, silent fathers and more carefree sons.

And the changing labour market has destroyed their masculine identity.

He told Sky News: "The decline of heavy industry and manufacturing jobs has left a lot of men in a position where they don't feel the jobs on offer - particularly service jobs - are ones they feel comfortable with.

"They feel there is a set of expectations about how to behave. And the role of women in the workplace is very different in those service industries compared to the old manufacturing jobs."

The report also warned that men have less social support than women, and are more likely to suffer in silence when relationships break down.

Former England rugby hooker Brian Moore, who had counselling for personal trauma, backed The Samaritans' campaign to reach out to middle-aged men.

David Sidwell turned to the Samaritans after suffering a breakdown, losing his job and breaking up with his girlfriend in a matter of months.

Severely depressed, he considered suicide. He now urges other men not to bottle up their feelings.

"Don't suffer in silence. Talk to someone and get some help," he advised.

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 08457 90 90 90 or email

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