Male Suicide

In our analysis of suicide levels among men we are starting with a well researched report from the Men’s Health Forum produced in June 2016 and updated September 2017


  • Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 (Reference: ONS)
  • 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
  • Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women – Health and Social Care Information Centre
  • Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
  • Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men.

Male Under-diagnosis?

While women are more likely to be diagnosed with common mental disorders, there are important indicators of widespread mental distress in men.

  • The prevalence of psychotic illness is believed to be low, around 0.4% in the population as a whole, and is roughly equally distributed between men and women (Reference: K. Saddler and P. Bebbington (2009), ‘Psychosis’, in Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey) although the onset of some particular forms of psychosis seems to occur earlier in the lifespan in men (References: Journal of PsychiatryD. Castle)
  • One adult in six (17.0%) has a common mental disorder (e.g. depression, anxiety, phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder). One woman in five has CMD (20.7%) compared with about one man in eight (13.2%). (Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014, Executive summary: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey)

There is considerable debate about the true level of common mental health disorders in men and whether larger numbers of men than women may be undiagnosed. In a 2016 survey by Opinion Leader for the Men’s Health Forum, the majority of men said that they would take time off work to get medical help for physical symptoms such as blood in stools or urine, unexpected lumps or chest pain, yet fewer than one in five said they would do the same for anxiety (19%) or feeling low (15%).

The Men’s Health Forum has argued that the following might provide a better picture of the state of men’s mental health than the number of clinical diagnoses:

  • Over three quarters of people who kill themselves are men (Reference: ONS). 
  • Men report significantly lower life satisfaction than women in the Government’s national well-being survey – with those aged 45 to 59 reporting the lowest levels of life satisfaction (Reference: ONS)
  • 73% of adults who ‘go missing’ are men (Reference: University of York).
  • 87% of rough sleepers are men (Reference: Crisis).
  • Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women) (Reference: HSCIC).
  • Men are three times as likely to report frequent drug use than women (4.2% and 1.4% respectively) and more than two thirds of drug-related deaths occur in men (Reference: Information Centre).
  • Men make up 95% of the prison population (Reference: House of Commons Library). 72% of male prisoners suffer from two or more mental disorders (Reference: Social Exclusion Unit).
  • Men are nearly 50% more likely than women to be detained and treated compulsorily as psychiatric inpatients (Reference: Information Centre).
  • Men have measurably lower access to the social support of friends, relatives and community (References: R. Boreham and D. Pevalin).
  • Men commit 86% of violent crime (and are twice as likely to be victims of violent crime) (Reference: ONS).
  • Boys are around three times more likely to receive a permanent or fixed period exclusion than girls (Reference:

Boys are performing less well than girls at all levels of education. In 2013 only 55.6% of boys achieved 5 or more grade A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics, compared to 65.7% of girls (Reference: Department for Education).

The Men’s Health Forum suggests that these statistics indicate that male emotional and psychological distress may sometimes emerge in ways that do not fit comfortably within conventional approaches to diagnosis. They also show that men may be more likely to lack some of the known precursors of good mental health, such as a positive engagement with education or the emotional support of friends and family.

A picture begins to emerge of a potentially sizeable group of men who cope less well than they might:

  • These men may fail to recognise or act on warning signs, and may be unable or unwilling to seek help from support services.
  • At the further end of the spectrum they may rely on unwise, unsustainable self-management strategies that are damaging not only to themselves but also to those around them.
  • Such a picture would broadly parallel what is already known about men’s poorer physical health.

Although personality disorders are not generally considered to be a form of mental illness in themselves, they can be highly disabling and men are believed to be more likely to suffer from them (5.4% of men compared to 3.4% of women) (Reference: Rethink Personality disorders factsheet). 

People with personality disorders are more likely than the general population to come into contact with mental health services (Reference: S. Ullrich) are known to be at increased risk of substance misuse, anti-social behaviour and suicide (References: Foresight, Rethink. Personality disorders factsheet).


People with personality disorders are more likely than the general population to come into contact with mental health services (Reference: S. Ullrich) are known to be at increased risk of substance misuse, anti-social behaviour and suicide (References: Foresight, Rethink. Personality disorders factsheet).

The peak age group for these conditions is 45-54 – significantly higher than all other age groups.

In a 2016 survey of 1,112 employed men conducted by Opinion Leader for the Men’s Health Forum presents a picture of at least one in ten of the male workforce as significantly stressed:

  • 9% described themselves as severely or extremely stressed
  • 8% strongly agreed that “Overwork and stress caused by a need to achieve on the job or in school affects or hurts my life”
  • 34% agreed or strongly agreed that they were “constantly feeling stressed or under pressure” and 11% strongly agreed.
  • 12% of men said that the last time they were prompted to take time off work to see a GP was because they were “constantly feeling stressed or under pressure” and 11% because of “Prolonged feelings of sadness”.

Use of Services

Men are significantly less likely to access psychological therapies than women. During the first 3 quarters of 2015, men were only 36% of those accessing psychological therapies. (Reference: IAPT quarterly data file)

There is no significant difference in recovery rate in response to IAPT between men and women. (Roughly the same number of men complete a course of therapy as begin it.)

In a 2016 survey of 1,112 employed men conducted by Opinion Leader for the Men’s Health Forum:

  • 34% would be embarrassed or ashamed to take time off work for mental health concern such as anxiety or depression compared to 13% for a physical injury. (Amongst men with mental health concerns, 46% are embarrassed or ashamed.)
  • 38% would be concerned that their employer would think badly of them if they took time off work for a mental health concern – compared to 26% for a physical injury. (Amongst men with mental health concerns, 52% are concerned.)

A survey conducted by YouGov for the Mental Health Foundation (2016) found that:

  • 28% of men had not sought medical help for the last mental health problem they experienced compared to 19% of women.
  • A third of women (33%) who disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or loved one did so within a month, compared to only a quarter of men (25%).
  • Over a third of men (35%) waited more than 2 years or have never disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or family member, compared to a quarter of women (25%).


Although suicide is not one of the main causes of death in men overall, it is the single most common cause of death in men under 45 (References: Department of Health).

  • In 2016 there were 5,668 suicides in Great Britain. Of the total number of suicides, 76% were males and 24% were females. (Reference: ONS)
    • The age-standardised suicide rates in 2016 were 15.7 deaths per 100,000 population for males  (down from 16.2) and 4.8 deaths per 100,000 population for females (down from 5.3). 
    • Suicides rates have been consistently lower in females than in males over the past three decades (Reference: ONS).
  • The suicide rate was highest in middle-aged men (40 to 44-year old age groups). The suicide rate for this group was 23.7 deaths per 100,000 population (Reference: ONS).
  • The risk of suicide also varies by occupation. Men working in ‘elementary occupations’ have the highest risk of suicide – 44% higher than the national average – and account for 19% of male suicides. Males working in skilled trade occupations had the second-highest risk among the major occupational groups – and account for 29% of all male suicides. The lowest risk is among managers, directors and senior officials. In this group the risk of suicide was around 50% less than the national average. (Reference: ONS).

Suicide – the Samaritans Report

A review by the Samaritans in 2012 (Men, Suicide and Society) emphasised that middle-aged men in lower socio-economic groups are at particularly high risk of suicide. They pointed to the interaction of complex factors such as unemployment and economic hardship, lack of close social and family relationships, the influence of a historical culture of masculinity, personal crises such as divorce, as well as a general ‘dip’ in subjective well-being among people in their mid-years, compared with both younger and older people.

The report’s findings were split into 6 key themes:

  • Personality traits – some traits can interact with factors such as deprivation, unemployment, social disconnection and triggering events, such as relationship breakdown or job loss, to increase the risk of suicide. 
  • Masculinity – more than women, men respond to stress by taking risks, like misusing alcohol and drugs.
  • Relationship breakdowns – marriage breakdown is more likely to lead men, rather than women, to suicide.
  • Challenges of mid-life – people currently in mid-life are experiencing more mental health problems and unhappiness compared to younger and older people.  
  • Emotional illiteracy – men are much less likely than women to have a positive view of counselling or therapy, and when they do use these services, it is at the point of crisis.
  • Socio-economic factors – unemployed people are 2-3 times more likely to die by suicide than those in work and suicide increases during economic recession.

Suicide in disadvantaged men in their middle years is a health and social inequality issue. Men living in these circumstances are up to 10 times more at risk of suicide than those living in the most advantaged conditions.

MWWT Analysis

A number of attempts have been made to reduce suicide  to Zero as seen below.

  • Mersey Care NHS – Zero Suicide Policy set up – £25m for suicide prevention
    • The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health called for the Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England to support all local areas to have multi-agency suicide prevention plans in place as part of a major drive to reduce suicides in England by 10 per cent by 2020/21.
    • 2018 – October – PM appoints Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to Suicide Prevention Minister
    • Critic, Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said there had not been enough improvements to services since Mrs. May pledged to tackle the issue two years ago (2016) “While we applaud the intention (of the announcement) it is striking that the UK should be hosting such a summit (world summit) when we hear daily about people left untreated due to a lack of nurses and doctors” she said. “The prime minister must examine our own mental health system before addressing other countries”

Close examination of the Men’s Health report enables us to list out a few important factors among which are the different treatment that men receive throughout their lives compared with women. Many of these issues are listed on our website and are due to the simple fact that the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 are not being applied to men and boys through a deliberate application of Gender Apartheid Policies through the use of drawbridge policies whereby the well-being and safety of Women and Girls is deliberately prioritised. The drawbridge is then pulled up leaving Men and Boys to fend for themselves and additionally subjected to misandrist treatment designed to put them down. We will outline this treatment.

We have to emphasise that there will always be social problems affecting both men and women which is why we have a policy of Men and Women Working Together in order to solve the whole problem and not just half of it.

Outcomes – The Family Courts –  are the worst place for men as they have never been treated as equals. The fundamental difference is that they do not have a human right to contact with their children any more than their children have a human right of contact with their father. Numerous attempts have been made to introduce Bills in order to create an equal parenting right for both parents after divorce where it is safe for the children. They have all been turned down by the Establishment. In the worst cases, they never see their children again: they suffer from Parental Alienation when the mother has turned the children against them. This is very real – it happened to me as a child. We currently have an ongoing case involving a man who is experiencing the full application of all the worst aspects of the Family Courts in the UK including Domestic Abuse, False Accusations, Loss of contact with children, Parental Alienation, Homelessness, etc. Link – see John Smith Story as a male victim of domestic abuse and the Family Courts. We have called him John Smith in order to protect him from further ill treatment from the Family Courts.

Outcomes Homelessness – as a result of divorce they frequently lose their home and in some cases end up living on the streets unable to access medical help, living in unsanitary conditions, poorly fed.

OutcomesDrugs- at the end of a long road men frequently end up on drugs.

Outcomes Domestic Abuse – in the event of domestic abuse, a total lack of Government refuge funding for men and their children means they have to choose between leaving the home and leaving the children with a violent mother or remain until divorce takes place. I know all this having set up and run the ManKind Helpline. This is what drove me to set it up. In other cases men who have suffered from extreme physical or coercive treatment and lacking support services, end up committing suicide. The narrative introduced by Theresa May MP is that coercion mostly affects women. Of all the men who contacted me on the helpline the majority acknowledged that it was controlling/coercive treatment affected them more than physical assault. Theresa May has quite clearly never listened to a desperate man on the end of a helpline.

Outcomes – As a result of the Benchbook which gives the judiciary guidance on  male/female sentencing, increasing numbers of women are spared prison while men are incarcerated. Men’s prisons are truly appalling which leads to male suicide. In YOI’s young men are frequently left in solitary confinement for weeks at a time. Fortunately for women, irrespective of their crimes they are placed in Rehabilitation Centres where all the emphasis is on their health and well-being and ensuring that they are well prepared for life on the outside. This is, apparently the establishment’s view of “equality” between men and women. As a result men leave prison as hardened criminals and in very poor physical and mental condition.

Young man left in cell alone for 22 hours a day sleeping on a filthy mattress on the floor

ReOutcomes – False Allegations – During the appalling period when Alison Saunders was in charge of the CPS, hundreds of men may have been wrongly convicted of rape and sex offences because vital evidence exonerating them was never disclosed as we now know happened in 47 cases in 2018 – such was Saunder’s crusade to obtain a prison sentence at any cost. The BBC programme in 2020 “I am not a rapist” disclosed that “Since 2016, 1419 men under investigation for rape or sexual assault have died ‘untimely deaths’

False Allegations of Domestic Abuse are a feature of the Family Courts and with the new Domestic Abuse Act it is planning to stop cross examinations of the accuser under the assumption that the accuser is telling the truth. This is a serious breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 and will lead to more suicides.

Outcomes – ex war veterans including those who served in Northern Ireland – they are all hung out to dry especially the Northern Ireland war veterans in their 70’s who are still facing war crime accusations. The MOD do not even keep suicide records unlike the USA. While campaigning in Somerset I came across many veterans discharged from the army with artificial legs, poor health conditions, no job and struggling to keep a roof over their head.

Retired British Army major, 57, hanged himself in his garage after suffering from PTSD triggered by the trauma of serving in Bosnia, inquest hears

MOD has no idea how many brave war heroes are homeless or have killed themselves

Mother’s grief as son becomes 11th member of one army unit to take their own lives after surviving vicious battles in Afghanistan and Iraq

Outcomes – War on Men – this has been developing steadily over the years since the setting up of the first Women’s Minister in 1997 and has been used to focus and fund many women’s organisations in their demonising of ALL MEN. MWWT support women’s campaigns but sadly they make no allowance for the fact that these social problems also impact on men and worse they baldly state that all men are guilty. These attitudes are seriously damaging for male/female relationships and cause further distress for many thousands of innocent men including children who have to face the loss of a father.

This one sided approach will never solve the whole problem until Men & Women Work Together and create a fair and balanced society for men, women and children. MWWT have undertaken interviews based on appalling court cases where children have been overlooked by the system. In our analysis of the BBC’S first 100 cases of murder, 67 men and young male teenagers, 23 women and 10 children including babies were killed. If we extrapolate these figures over a year they become 245 men and young male teenagers, 84 women and 37 young children including babies.

These 245 men and 37 young children and babies are never featured in Jess Phillips annual list of women killed. Does this mean that men and young children are less important. We will never solve the tragedy of so many men committing suicide and all of the murders if we continue travelling along our current trajectory of male demonisation.

Within Parliament there are whole departments and cross party groups devoted to the well being of Women and Girls and much of this was developed by “I am a soft line feminist” Theresa May MP including the powerful initiative “Violence against Women & Girls strategy” which is permanently in place driving many initiatives. The Judiciary are, of course, the prime movers of the Bench Book which ignores the 2010 Equality Act and the Human Rights Act 1998. We have the Hate Crime Act which will ensure that men will be left on the shelf devoid of any protection and a new Misogyny Bill also on its way through Parliament which will be designed to shut down men’s voices.

Amendments will be added to ensure men are permanently silenced. In short men have become disenfranchised – their vote counts for nothing in the UK. They are used to lay their lives on the line for our constant involvement in global wars, but count for nothing when it comes to their mental or physical well-being.

To repeat our message Men & Women must Work Together in a spirit of harmony

if all of the above discrimination against men which has been deliberately built  over the decades since 1997 was reformed, male suicide would drop dramatically. It would, however, require a full overhaul of the Equality Act 2010 and the 1998 Human Rights Act neither of which offers men and boys any protection. It would also need our establishment to own up to all of the above outcomes which add to the surplus levels of male suicide.

Stephen Fitzgerald – Chairman MWWT