“What is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 49?”
This is the question we asked our class of paramedics receiving their mental health training the other day…
A number of good suggestions came forward; a heart attack, cancer perhaps, maybe a stroke or, thinking outside of physical health, road traffic accidents. Like the paramedics you may be surprised to know the answer is suicide, by a long way, hanging being the most common method.
To give you an idea of scale, there are approximately 1713 deaths by road traffic accidents per year (male & female) while 4287 men lose their life each year by suicide.
Three-quarters of all suicides in the UK are male – Office for National Statistics, (ONS) Statistical bulletin for the year 2016.
Why is this? Because we do not talk about mental health enough, men particularly, nor does society talk about suicide very readily.
Rays of hope; The times they are a changing – a recent masculinity audit shows men now view their mental health as more important than their physical health, with 46% of young men aged 18-29 saying they consider mental health to be very important.
In 2016 the suicide rates fell by 3.1% for men and 9.4% for women (ONS).
Perhaps we are ready to talk about it…