A report commissioned by Samaritans, a British charity that offers confidential listening services to anyone in distress, revealed that, although suicide rates in younger men has decreased, for men in their middle-ages it is on the rise.
Researchers involved in the report suggest suicide is not only a mental health problem but also a social, as well as health, inequality issue.
According to Stephen Platt, a University of Edinburgh health policy research professor and trustee for the Samaritans, middle-aged men are a part of a "buffer" generation. They are confused on whether or not they should be like their more traditional, more serious and silent fathers or like their younger, more liberal and individualistic sons.
The report reveals the change in the job market has greatly impacted working class men. Due to the decline in traditional male dominated industries, men have lost their jobs as well as their sense of pride and masculinity.
Researchers found, on average, nearly 3,000 middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds commit suicide every year. Disadvantaged men are 10 times more likely to commit suicide.
Additionally, Platt found today's disadvantaged men are less likely to have one life-long partner and are more likely to live alone without the social and emotional skills necessary for coping. Platt stated men are continuously criticized for their reluctance in seeking help.
The report has made several recommendations for national governments' health, welfare and social services sectors to implement in order to combat suicide in disadvantaged, middle-aged men.
These recommendations include:
1. Take on the challenge of tackling the gender and socio-economic inequalities in suicide risk.
2. Suicide prevention policy and practice must take account of men's beliefs, concerns and context - in particular their views of what it is to 'be a man'.
3. Recognize that for men in mid-life, loneliness is a very significant cause of their high risk of suicide, and help men to strengthen their social relationships.
4. There must be explicit links between alcohol reduction and suicide prevention strategies; both must address the relationships between alcohol consumption, masculinity, deprivation and suicide.
5. Support GPs to recognize signs of distress in men, and make sure that those from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to a range of support, not just medication alone.
6. Provide leadership and accountability at local level, so there is action to prevent suicide.