Samaritans warn of suicide risk in middle-aged men

New survey highlights loneliness and isolation as key causes

Suicidal feelings were expressed during one in five contacts made by men, while 20 per cent of these also talked about previous suicide attempts. Photograph: Getty Images

Suicidal feelings were expressed during one in five contacts made by men, while 20 per cent of these also talked about previous suicide attempts. Photograph: Getty Images

 

One in four men who contacted the Samaritans talked about loneliness and isolation in a new survey carried out by the support group.

The poll of 671 men was taken across 10 branches of the support group in Ireland and the UK during the week from August 5th to August 11th last.

Some 23 per cent of men talked about relationship difficulties, while in 43 per cent of conversations, financial issues were discussed.

Suicidal feelings were expressed during one in five contacts made by men, while 20 per cent of these also talked about previous suicide attempts.

Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone said there was a “likelihood of social disconnection” among men in mid-life, “particularly if unemployed and without a partner”.

She said this played a “fundamental role” in the high risk of suicide in this demographic. “A lack of supportive relationships or belief there are no people you can turn to are well-established risk factors for suicide.

“A growing evidence base shows that positive social connections – such as marriage or partner, family, ties to friends and neighbours, workplace ties – make people happy and healthy.

“Lack of social relationships constitutes a major risk factor for ill-health and mortality, comparable to cigarette smoking, blood pressure, blood lipids, obesity and physical inactivity.

“This survey again highlights the role of men’s feelings of loneliness and lack of social support in their increased risk of suicide. We have to stop putting pressure on men to live up to societal views of what it is to be a ‘real man’,” she added.

To contact the Samaritans, call 1850 609090.