What is Killing Our Men?

Would you believe me if I told you, it’s suicide that is killing our men? Well, it is, and the figures are shocking. The statistics I am quoting in this blog come from The UK Office For National Statistics, for the year 2013. Statistics for later years are not available yet.

When we hear reports of ‘the leading cause of death,’ things such as cancers and heart attacks tend to come to mind. But, the truth is, our boys are dying in road traffic collisions or by suicide, and our men up until the age of 50, are dying from suicide more than any other thing. Here is what the statistics look like – these are total numbers who died in the UK, in that category during 2013:

Boys aged 5-19 
Leading cause of death was road traffic collisions – 128
Not far behind is suicide – 112
Cancer: 91

Men aged 20-34
Leading cause of death was suicide – 861
Road traffic collisions – 338
Cancer: 154

Men aged 35-49
Leading cause of death was suicide – 1,381
Cancer: 892
Road traffic collisions – 263

Men aged 50-64
Leading cause of death was cancer: 9,237
Heart disease – 5,575
Suicide – 1,075
Road traffic collision figures not listed

So, how come we don’t seem to know anything about this? Why isn’t there a public outcry? Our men are dying in their thousands, but not in the ways we think they are, because reporters are not rushing to tell us. Sure, mental health charities are screaming it from the rooftops to make their voice heard, but it never seems to make it to the news headlines. We, as a nation, need to listen to what the charities are telling us and the media need to start reporting the facts and figures.

It’s not just men who have a diagnosed mental illness who are dying by suicide; it’s also ordinary men, who appear to live otherwise normal lives. They may be hiding intense distress or serious problems from their loved ones.

So, why are we not wearing ribbons for men, shaving our heads, throwing ourselves out of aeroplanes or climbing backwards off the top of tall buildings? We don’t do 10k runs or midnight walks for men. Why not? We see so many adverts on TV, on social media or in the papers to raise awareness of various cancers that can kill men, but never anything about the real killer of men. Why not?

Maybe we should start doing these things; not just to raise awareness and start conversations, but more importantly, to raise precious funds. Let’s face it; the Government are unlikely to allocate the funds desperately needed, despite most of them being men, and many of them being in the age groups at risk.

The total number of girls and women dying by suicide is much lower. Even so, in the 20 – 34 age group, suicide is the leading cause of death. Not surprisingly, cancer tops the list in most other age categories. So we understandably do so much fundraising and run cancer awareness campaigns for our women.

For the love of men, let’s start talking about male suicide and push harder to start campaigns, raise awareness and funds because the statistics speak for themselves.

 

Where to get help:
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) exists to prevent male suicide in the UK. They have a helpline staffed from 5 pm to midnight every day: 0800 58 58 58

Samaritans helpline 24 hrs a day: 08457 90 90 90

 

By Shirley Stoddart
Bio

References:

  1. Office for National Statistics 2013: http://visual.ons.gov.uk/what-are-the-top-causes-of-death-by-age-and-gender/
  2. The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/19/number-of-suicides-uk-increases-2013-male-rate-highest-2001