why men suicide

Why Men Kill Themselves

This is a hard article to write, and it’s probably going to be a hard article for you to read.

But it’s important to talk about it…

Because that uncomfortable feeling around talking about or even thinking about suicide is just one reason suicide has become the leading killer of men under the age of 50.

Why do men kill themselves?

In fact, why does a man take his own life every 2 hours in the UK alone?

Why is the suicide rate increasing year after year and why out of all of the suicides last year, a massive 76% were men?

Isn’t it time we did something? Isn’t it time we changed the way we’re currently handling our emotions and spoke about it?

I strongly believe so.

After losing my Dad to suicide 6 years ago, I’ve consistently asked the same question many others who’ve been affected by suicide ask… Why?

Why did he do it?

What could we have done?

I’ve dropped into depression myself, I’ve experienced that deep dark hole many men will experience in their life and I’ve seen why suicide can become not just a choice… but the only choice.

Can suicide really be a choice if it’s the only choice available?

I’m sure that’s what my Dad felt, as ourselves and people around us kept asking the question of why he did it.

He had a well paid full time job, ran a Physiotherapy business from home in the evenings, had two sons, a wife who was his childhood sweetheart, he had a psychology degree, he was a runner who competed often, an athlete…

He had so many ‘reasons’ why he shouldn’t do it.

But through his breakdown his pain was far greater than any reason to stay here.

His perception of life had collapsed, darkened, and to him he’d lost all choice in life.

In fact in reflection the only choice he was in full control of was should I end this pain or fight it for another day?

When someone is in the situation of killing themselves they’re in control which is a feeling that makes them feel complete.

They feel like they’re not in control of any other situation of their life, but this situation right here right now, on the brink of taking their own life is their decision, it’s them in control.

The pain of living becomes unbearable, and people struggle to understand the pain people are going through to make that decision.

I sure did, I spent years asking ‘why’ and thinking I could have done more.

me and dad

* Me and my dad on a family holiday.

When you hit that dark hole, when your perception of life collapses, the pain is far greater than anything to live for.

After listening to numerous people who survived their attempts on suicide and reflecting on my Dad’s suicide, a lot of them talk about the pain in which they wanted to end.

Not wanting it to hurt anymore, wanting the pain they’re going through to go away.

When you think of it, dieing is physically painful…

But the pain they’re in at the time of making that decision is far greater than the physical pain they’ll endure.

Something I’ve never really shared before stands out to me here…

When my Dad decided to walk infront of a lorry reports from witnesses say after the collision… he smiled.

The physical pain he endured from the collision took away a far greater pain of his mental illness.

People who’ve been dragged from bridges preparing to jump have often been labelled as ‘limp’ from the people who save them. Their bodies are relaxed, lightweight and pain free.

The pain is over.

My Dad was in the best physical shape a guy in his mid 40’s could be when he died, but he never got the support for his unexpected fall to his mental health.

We need to understand this pain, so we can better treat and understand the people in the situation.

We weren’t given a manual on how to deal with it, and neither was my Dad.

If my Dad had broke his leg he’d be sent home in a cast, and we’d have instructions on how he’d get better. We’d be told to help him rest for a few weeks, he’d be told when he could get back to walking, back to running and back to full recovery. We’d be told what medication he was on and when he should take it…

When my Dad had a breakdown we had no instructions, we had no manual to know how to support him.

We took him to the doctors who prescribed some anti-depressants and he was sent home.

Now what?

What do we say? What do we do?

There needs to be more support, it needs to be openly spoken about and treated as it is… a health issue.

Suicide is a subject people avoid talking about, people don’t like to admit the times they’ve felt suicidal and this silence is a huge factor behind the shocking statistics right now.

4,624 isn’t just a number, it isn’t just a statistic, it’s the amount of men who took their own life in the UK last year.

The pain we went through as a family after my Dad took his own life, the pain we saw him go through, the amount of people around him it effected on paper just added an extra number to that ever rising figure.

As you read this you yourself have probably been affected by suicide, or at least know someone who is.

So let’s do something about it…

4 Things To Help

Here’s a few things we can do to help break the silence and overcome suicide.

1. Think about it, Talk about it, Do something.

By you reading this I’ve got you to think about suicide, something a lot of people still refrain from doing.

It’s important to remove any stigma around suicide and know it’s ok to think about it, talk about it openly and do something about it.

Spread awareness, share this article and let’s stop the silence.

We find it easier to openly think about, talk about and spread awareness about other illnesses but often feel uncomfortable doing so with mental health.

As a man it’s not a weakness to be open, it’s a strength.

Instead of sharing a funny video to your friends on Facebook today, share this.

Once the silence is broken, people start talking.

Help be apart of it.

When you change the way someone thinks about something it creates a movement. Think about it, speak about it, do something about it.

If you’re contemplating suicide there’s a hope inside you, we need you to be leaders in this conversation whether you’re ready to have it or not.

If you’ve been affected by suicide it’s also important to step forward and become a leader. Share your experience and talk about it openly.

I held myself back from opening up and talking about my Dad’s suicide for 5 years…

I know how hard it is, but opening up and breaking that silence will not only make it easier it will help others too.

2. Society

The painted picture of a modern day man is influenced by today’s society and again it’s important to ignore it or change it.

Lad culture, celebrity role models, social media, the news, workplaces and schools all have an impact on the way people perceive suicide and the meaning of being a man.

When was the last time you saw someone be acknowledged for overcoming that dark situation and avoiding suicide?

When was someone who overcame the pain and the hell they went through showcased on TV? Within the media? Across social media?

If more people stepped forward and shared their stories, and if the media and society allowed them to openly do so more hope will be installed in to others.

With awareness comes a shift in society.

3. The word ‘commit’

No one has ‘committed’ suicide since the early 1970’s when suicide was decriminalised.

We need to stop saying ‘commit’.

People commit rape, people commit murder, suicide isn’t a crime.

It’s a health matter not a criminal matter and it shouldn’t be labelled as one.

People don’t like talking about things that are criminal, and by us labelling it as ‘committing’ suicide we’re making it harder to talk about.

Of course this small change isn’t going to solve every issue but it’s a small change which could help break the silence.

4. Treat it

There’s various ways to treat someone who’s suicidal.

Deep depression can be helped but it’s something that needs the right support.

Having hope is an important factor to overcoming it.

Only the person in that situation can make that change but they need to have hope given to them from people around them, the health system and society.

£600 million is going to be invested into the NHS mental health system this year, and it’s important they invest wisely.

With the right guidance, support, medication and hope suicide doesn’t have to be the only choice.

Getting the above and being open about your emotions, increasing your self worth and surrounding yourself with positivity will help turn that deep dark hole to light.

Talk to someone.

Whether you write down how you feel and share it with someone, talk to a counsellor, a family member… just open up and talk to someone.

CALM is on hand to offer you support through their free phone support aswell.

There’s hope, but it’s important we break the silence and do something about it.

Start by sharing this article, and making more people think, speak and do something about it.

For more advice on how to overcome it, read some more posts here on this blog and download the eBook ‘Man Up or Man Down’ which you can get for free here (in the sidebar) today.

62 Comments

  1. Jorge Roman Fedetschko

    Concordo plenamente que todos precisamos de ajuda/orientação em determinados pontos da vida. A conversa sobre o assunto realmente pode ajudar muitos a pensarem melhor na vida e pode ajudar os que o cercam a compreender os problemas (depressão, anciedade) e prestar a merecida atenção. As pessoas (familiares, parentes amigos) devem ter em mente que não é SÓ MAIS UM DEPRESSIVO que está em sua convivência. è um ser humano doente. Precisa de auto-estima sim, precisa ter esperança sim, precisa saber que é alguém!

  2. Paul Tomlin

    thanks for writing this.

  3. Terry Hume

    Wow

  4. Please read Emile Durkheim Le Suicid. It should be available in English.

  5. Diana

    Thank you very much for your blog, you give me a good idea to open a page on the FB to support people with this problem

  6. Sarah Louise Walter

    Firstly, thank you for your bravery in coming forward to tell your story. I am sorry for the loss of your father. I couldn’t agree more with what you have said, breaking the taboos and stigma surrounding mental illness is the only way to reduce that number and get people the help they so desperately need and the first step to do that is by breaking the silence. There are a couple of awareness groups that believe in the same goal as yours and also have the ‘celebrity’ and publicity side that you ask about in your article. Time to Change is one, and is endorsed by Stephen Fry to name but one. The other is called Always Keep Fighting and was set up after actor Jared Padalecki (from the TV show Supernatural) openly took time off because to get help for depression. I thought these may be of interest to you in case you hadn’t heard of them (Time to Change is a British group I think but AKF and Jared Padalecki is American). Lastly I would just like to say thank you again, for your honesty. I fight depression and anxiety every day and have been through the darkest patches where I have considered suicide but thankfully never took that final step. I want others to be able to say the same. #TimeToChange #BreakTheSilence #AlwaysKeepFighting #AKF

    • Paul McGregor

      Thank you for the comment Sarah. I’ll make sure I check out those awareness groups and thank you for sharing your story too.

  7. Deeply moving, inspiring, empowering article. Thank you.

    Please do checkout my website, Facebook page Transcend Therapy and my eBook at the Amazon Kindle Store ‘Transcend – You Are Enough’.

  8. Ollie

    Excellent article. So easy for anyone to ‘slip down that hole’ and then even lower. Talk essential. I was helped many, many years ago by a friends comment “well if there’s no point in life there’s even less in death”. That helped me crawl up out of the hole. Everyone is different, often needing just a little support and emotional understanding. The well of blackness is horrible.

  9. Martin Huggins

    Thank you for sharing, I too will share this, let’s all share it ! My work as a counselor with young people has involved many assessments and subsequent work with those who disclose suicidal thoughts, for them there is usually a road back, but we need to reach those who are silent, and wonder why?

  10. Sarah

    Firstly I’m sorry for your loss,
    My son took his own life in August 2015 . It helps so much reading things like this ,it answers a lot of questions that I have that go round in my head to why my son did what he did . The talks that I have had with mental health services over the years and never really understanding what was being said to me about mental health because of all the terminology they use . I understand so much more now from just reading your article for just 5 mins then I ever did listening to mental health services over the past 5+years ,so thank you for sharing . Things need to change big time with mental health services , mental health is a real illness.

    • Paul McGregor

      I really can’t express how much your comment means to me. I also never had a good experience with the NHS in terms of my Dad’s mental health treatment and to hear you say my article gave you more clarity makes me writing it worthwhile. I’m sorry to hear about your son and I hope you and your family manage to deal with the loss. Thanks again Sarah.

  11. Thank you for writing this Paul. I can’t imagine it would have been easy for you but you have done the right thing. I am going to share this with my support group.

  12. Charles

    Hi, once again thank you for sharing this. I personally suffer with depression and have thought about suicide a few times. I’m not 100% sure what stops me from ending it but one thing I know is I am in a dark hole or cage as I see it. Feels like I’m trapped. One thing I have learnt is that finding something to calm me down when I’m feeling down really does help and talking to new people also helps. I don’t confide in new people but I be myself and I always have a laugh. I took up the hobby of English pool and it calms be down very well and keeps my head level. Reading your article today made me break into tears and realise that it can be talked about and shouldn’t be kept hidden as most men today hide there emotions to look tough and that is very wrong. If anyone reads my comment that is suffering please know that it’s ok to talk to someone. Just surround yourself with the positive people you need and stay high not low with your self.
    Charles, age 20

  13. William Smith

    While in America a lot of young men suicides are a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to military service in Iraq & Afghanistan military doctors are finding Transcendental Meditation helps these victims per below found on google search. Also helps women & children with PTSD & myself some 39 years ago & still pratice & advocate.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160111121344.htm

  14. Simon Francis

    Thanks for this Paul a great article. I think that you hit the nail on the head in your analysis of hope. Been thinking for some time of looking to get some funding to pull together a suicide awareness pack for front line professionals police job centre etcetera. Your post has inspired me to try and make it so.

  15. Alec

    Good article, thanks for sharing. It’s not just men’s idea of what being a man is which needs to be changed, society’s whole attitude to mental health does. One factor you didn’t mention was that because staiatically men are more likely to work full time, we often have little or no access to healthcare services – I decided a few weeks ago to try and get help, but I have to start with my GP to get a referral, been trying to get an appointment every day for four weeks now without success.
    Most depressed men are probably like me, we endure each cycle, hope to survive it, but we all know our destiny is strictly in our own hands, there is no help, no hope, and noone to talk to, and nor is there a realistic prospect that there will be in my lifetime.

  16. George Morehead

    My brother Duncan killed himself when he was 18. I was 12. My partner Jessica killed herself yesterday. I am now 31.

    A policeman apologised to me for using the word commit. I told him that was OK and I had no problem with that. I think there are more important things to consider. I don’t really care about a word.

    Fundamentaly maybe the way life works on this planet is so unbalanced that suicide is a legitimate response or action.

    I was once talking to someone that said suicide was selfish. I’m not so sure.

    I feel quite bad that when I found Jessica I performed CPR. Pushing down on her chest with my hands making air from her lungs come out of her mouth.

    I thought she would start breathing, be alive.

    I didn’t know she was dead and had been for two hours.

    Now I’ve been feeling I’m the selfish one. Wanting Jessica to be alive, for what, myself and other people.

    How disrespectful to her dead body, I could have read from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or anything.

    Instead I acted like most humans would.

    With no real understanding of life and death at all…

    • Paul McGregor

      I really appreciate you taking time to comment with your story, I’m so sorry to hear about your brother and partner. Stay strong.

    • Heather

      So sorry for your loss George. Please don’t beat yourself up. You reacted totally naturally as a human being – not wanting your loved one to be gone; she is now at peace. I hope you too will find peace within yourself.

  17. Libby

    Thank you so much for your brave article and for energy you put into making this change.
    A long time ago I had a partner who killed himself. Recently my so attempted it also.
    Luckily he was unsuccessful and we now talk about how he feels often and i have a very open relationship with him.
    The thing that strikes me the most is the courage to stay alive when all else seems futile.
    Your doing a great job and thank you from us all.

    • Paul McGregor

      Thank you for reading 🙂 Sorry to hear about your partner and your son, hopefully he can recover. It’s good to hear you now have an open relationship, if he can open up to you it will help him.

  18. Jason

    Great article, my father took his life 10 years ago. I have spent those 10 years just trying to broach the topic with myself. Trying to explain it too friends or co-workers is difficult. I look forward to sharing your article, Thank you.

  19. Louise Brydon

    Sorry for your loss & thank you for making this effort to raise more awareness.
    I’m saddened by the statistics & hope that more awareness & funding can help, particularly men it seems, to accept they have mental heath issues rather than see it as a weakness.
    In the past I’ve been down a pit of despair, feeling like a failure in every aspect of life & on occasion believed that everyone I cared about would be better off without me, but my saving grace was always the knowledge of the pain & bitterness that follows a suicide as my Father took his own life not long after I was born.
    The people who loved him still struggle to deal with it 40 years later. He didn’t give me the opportunity to love him so sadly instead just left me feeling rejected.
    I wish he’d been able to admit he had mental health problems & had access to support to give him strength to deal with his demons rather than run away from them.
    I was fortunate to get help for mine & although still occasional there, that pit of despair I fell into has been well & truly cemented.
    I hope you succeed in all you are setting out to achieve 🙂

  20. Adrian

    Good article.
    I’m 43, divorced with a young daughter, who I spend a lot of time with. Just been made redundant from work. Nothing feels worse than being middle aged and feeling like a failure, less successful than all other friends and family.
    I can see how people fall into this trap. I won’t but sometimes it seems a straightforward and easy escape…

    • Paul McGregor

      Stay strong you still have so much to live for. A good thing I try to do daily is write down 5 things I’m grateful for… it could be the smallest of things. It helps me appreciate what I have rather than what I don’t 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story Adrian.

    • Darren

      I’m a 41 yr old man who went through a breakdown not once but twice due to realationship an 1marriage failure….Society as a while doesn’t support the man in his fight to see his children rehouse an ‘re start ….
      This article brought a tears to my eye….
      It is only now I have ‘re housed an got custardy of my children an met a fanstanstic New lady that I perhaps didn’t harm myself …
      I still have dark days an at times have real lows, but through family and my new partner I can learn to love an live again…..It’s the ongoing support that is important, vital in fact to keep the dark days away
      We need to do more.

  21. Belle

    My brother took his own life before his 19th birthday … As a family member our view points can easily differ … As a father … Mother or sister … We look at the role we played or could have played . As a family we dont discuss it … & It’s an individual pain each of us carry. My view point as a sibling differs naturally from my parents .. As they seek to blame themselves as any caring parent would … I see suicide as an incredible act of courage in search of relief … To be respected … It’s not about us … But the wish of the individual to be acknowledged, respected & understood …. Similar to an act of euthanasia … When I’m old & have reached the point … Where I choose to want to take my life rather than live in pain or be a burden to anyone. This is my private opinion … & doesn’t offer condolences except to find understanding …. How difficult it may be to respect the wishes & choices people may make …. Even if we don’t understand them fully.

  22. Jan

    Thank you Paul for your article it is so enlightening and helpful. My son shared this on Facebook this evening. We lost our elder son in 2007 when he took his own life. He had been suffering depression for many years from a teenager we tried to get him help as young as 16 but there was never enough there for him. Bless his heart he held down a responsible job and tried so hard. We never knew why he decided to leave and it’s a question I ask myself each day. He came home for a couple of days as he lived away and he seemed so happy – did he come home to say goodbye – we will never know. Your blog has given me so much more understanding. I am sorry for your loss and thank you for your bravery. Also I feel your comment about ‘commit’ is so relevant.

  23. Michelle

    Thankyou for sharing your story, I lost my partner 14 months to suicide he left behind 6 children the youngest being my twins who were 15 month old at the time, you are so right on everything you said there is still far too much stigma around mental health and that’s it’s something to be ashamed about so alot of people don’t seek the help that they need.

  24. nathan

    As some one who was on the verge of taking my own life 3-4 years ago . I think the term commit is an accurate one . After agonizing over if it was worth living I committed myself to ending this life . The word has changed it’s meaning . While it now no longer applies in a legal sense , I do think it portrays the mind set of those wanting to end their lives . I was literally on that edge ready to go over , in my mind I was already falling . I thought nothing would make me stop . Out of shear bloody mindedness I would do it . I stopped because I thought about some one that had just entered my life . I had made the commitment before I got to know them and now at that final point I renounced my commitment to myself to end myself at that time. The depression is still here and I can feel myself sink some days , but then I think back and then stop thinking and do things , mostly for others. I get angry at people who try to help with platitudes over mental health issues . Or those that say they help but are really doing it for themselves . I’d rather they just say : ” Yeah I’m doing this to make myself feel good”. It won’t detract from what they are doing . Maybe people who have been through similar things that I have can see past the superficial ? ANY Hooo enough rambling .

    Thanks for the post dude . A* mate

  25. James Burke

    Paul, I applaud you for doing so much to help others and speaking so honestly and openly about such an intensely personal subject. I think what you’re doing is incredible, and I know it will save lives. I’ve learned so much from your article. I lost my older brother to suicide in 2007, and so much of what you wrote resonated with me. I found myself nodding in agreement again and again. My brother’s death impacted our family in so many ways. I will never forget the devastation on my mother’s face as we went through photos of him to display at his funeral. I idolized my brother when we were growing up, and it haunts me knowing he was so completely alone at the end. Thank you again, Paul, for all you’ve done.

    • Paul McGregor

      That means a lot James, thank you. Really sorry to hear about your brother as well, I really hope this article helps you move forward.

  26. Matt

    When I tried to end the pain I was feeling and couldn’t take it any more
    It was a rational decision made by an irrational frame of mind but it was the only thing that made sense to me and to be honest it still does at times. That was back in 2004 it never leaves and nor should it.
    Health care professionals look at what you have going for you such as family job income always interested in asking have you made any plans in ending your life then they get flustered when you say yes as I like you belive it is healthy to think and discuss the subject then they do their risk assessment on you
    Not actually taking into account that nothing in life has changed since the act but they look at the fact that you have a job income family and support that you won’t need to do it again. Then hey presto you no longer meet the requirements for community mental health input no your not ill enough for hospital that’s for really sick people not attention grabbers like you but here are some useful phone numbers if you need to talk to someone. Call ne a cyninic and I will agree with you I have seen it said and done will get of my soap box now loved the article let’s fight the stigma all together

Trackbacks for this post

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