Regular readers may remember a Thought for the Week in September focussing on World Suicide Prevention Day. A couple of days ago I read a piece on BBC News which quoted figures on suicide on the UK from the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS said that in 2013 6,233 people over the age of 15 took their own lives, a rise of some 4% over the previous year. That’s an average of just over 17 people each day. 78% of these people were men, which translates as 19 deaths for every 100,000 men.
I find these figures both tragic and staggering, especially if you bear in mind the numbers of people who fail in their attempts to take their own lives. As mental health charity SANE say, many of the suicides could have been prevented if only these folk felt able to talk about their feelings and to seek help.
Cultural and societal pressures mean, for example, that the man ought to be the breadwinner, but where does that leave him when he loses his job in times of economic crisis? Expressions like ‘Keep calm and carry on’, ‘Man up’ and especially ‘Big boys don’t cry’ are not helping at all. It’s vital that people, men in particular, should feel able to share how they feel without being subjected to stigma and ridicule.
Let me put it in simple terms – men have feelings. I challenge anyone to deny this.