According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the suicide rate for men in England and Wales in 2019 was the highest it’s been for the past 20 years, with men aged between 45 and 49 having the highest age-specific suicide rate.
Why men are more vulnerable to suicide than women, is still not well understood. Although, it may be augmented by the fact men are far more reluctant to talk about their emotions, due to the fear of appearing weak or vulnerable to their loved ones. According to Samaritans, when some men believe they're not fulfilling the role of provider, they may feel a sense of shame and defeat, which may lead them to consider suicide.
It isn’t always easy to know whether you or someone close to you is feeling suicidal, and in some cases, there are no signs at all. To help, we have put together some advice on spotting the signs that you or someone close to you might be experiencing suicidal thoughts:
Spotting the signs
According to the mental health charity Mind, many people think about suicide at some point in their lives. Here are some of the things you may think or feel:
• Everything's hopeless - what's the point in living?
• There's nothing positive in your life, everything's negative
• Everyone would be better off without you
• You're useless, unwanted or unneeded by others
• Your unbearable pain is never going to end
• You're physically numb - you feel cut off from your body
• Taking your own life is your only option
Meanwhile, you may also experience things like sleeping problems (including waking too early), changes in your appetite and you may lose or gain weight. Your self-esteem may be very low, and you may try to avoid contact with other people, and feel no need to take care of yourself (including your physical appearance).
Spotting the signs in others
Spotting when someone else is thinking about suicide can be difficult. But, if you notice any of your loved ones exhibiting the following signs, then it might be time to step in:
• They talk about feelings of hopelessness
• They have sudden episodes of rage and anger
• They act recklessly and take part in risky activities with no concern for the consequences
• They say they feel trapped, and that they can't see their way out of their problems
• They self-harm (this includes misusing drugs or alcohol)
• They become increasingly withdrawn or appear anxious and agitated
The good news is that, according to Mind, the majority of people who have experienced suicidal feelings go on to live fulfilling lives if they get the support they need.
How you can help
If you do think you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these feelings or showing any of the above signs, there are many organisations that can give you the right advice and support.
If you’re worried about someone or feel like you could do with chatting to a trained, impartial professional, then do not hesitate to contact 1 of the below free helplines. Alternatively, contact your GP or call NHS 111 for an emergency appointment.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
CALM is a resource for young men who are feeling unhappy. Call the helpline on 0800 58 58 58.
This voluntary organisation aims to support young people thinking about suicide and those who are concerned about a young person. Call 0800 068 41 41 or visit papyrus-uk.org for more information.
With suicide affecting so many people in the UK, it’s important to know how to help your family or friends who may be having suicidal thoughts, as well as those struggling with depression and anxiety. Remember, it’s not always easy to spot the signs in others but being able to offer the right support if you do, can make all the difference.
As lockdown continues to ease and new challenges emerge, we want to help you maintain a sense of balance and control in your lives. That’s why CABA has launched a new campaign site called ‘Keeping Yourself Well’, which will feature a collection of self-help articles on topics such as returning to work, socialising, and managing increased workloads, along with information on all of our support services. Our content will cover all areas of wellbeing – mental, physical, career, financial, care and relationships – and we’ll continue to add more useful resources in line with what’s happening in the world.