A closer look at the data available on male suicide.
Suicide rates over time
The morning’s papers are carrying the latest numbers: 6,233 suicides were registered in the UK in 2013. While the female suicide rate has remained roughly constant since 2007, that for men is at its highest since 2001. Nearly eight in ten of all suicides are male – a figure that has been rising for over three decades.
Suicide rates in the UK – like most other countries’ – are significantly higher for men than women. After a drop, the number of deaths has begun to increase again since 2007, possibly an effect of the world economic crisis.
Causes of death
In 2013, if you were a man between the ages of 20 and 49 who’d died, the most likely cause was not assault nor car crash nor drug abuse nor heart attack, but a decision that you didn’t wish to live any more.
In England and Wales, suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged 15–34.
Methods of suicide
One reason a higher number of males actually die is their choice of method. While men tend towards hanging or guns, women more often reach for pills. Martin Seager, a clinical psychologist and consultant to the Samaritans, believes this fact demonstrates that men have greater suicidal intent. “The method reflects the psychology,” he says.
Men who attempt suicide appear to choose methods that are more drastic and irreversible than women, contributing to the higher number of recorded deaths.
All quotes from ‘The male suicides: how social perfectionism kills’, by Will Storr.