Out of sight, out of mind
In the UK and Ireland men are three to four times more likely to die by suicide than women. Men who are less well-off and living in the most deprived areas are up to 10 times more likely to die by suicide than more well-off men from affluent areas. Middle-aged men in the UK and Ireland also experience higher suicide rates than other groups, a fact that has persisted for decades.
Over recent years, there has been a positive focus on breaking down barriers and stigma around mental health, and encouraging men to seek help. However, there is still a lack of understanding of what works to prevent suicide among this group.
This new research seeks to build on what is already known about the reasons for the high rates of suicide among less well-off, middle-aged men, by exploring what can be done to drive change.
The report brings together the findings of the first stage of the research, which included a review of the evidence relating to existing wellbeing support and suicide prevention services, and primary ethnographic research with this at-risk group . It explores the lived experience of less well-off, middle-aged men and how community-based support services can be made more appealing and effective for them.
One of our central findings was that the services which men engaged with the most were those that gave them a sense of contribution, this included services which weren’t specifically designed for mental health purposes. The men we spoke to, who had often become lonely and isolated, were seeking out ways to feel connected and purposeful. These men, like the majority of people, wanted to have a role to play in society, which is something that can feel hard to obtain after the loss of a job, relationship breakdown or struggle with addiction.