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Forgotten  Victims of Gender Violence

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Quietly eloquent, my friend told me of his suicide bid that had been foiled by the unforeseen appearance of a passer-by. The near tragedy was the consequence of his being subjected to months of monosyllabic conversation and long periods of silence by his then-wife. It was not manic depression on her part; with friends and family, she maintained bright and breezy chitchat.

I had known my friend for years; a hardworking breadwinner, he never strayed and he adored his children. My friend however was a victim of domestic violence of a peculiarly female nature.

Another friend had succeeded in taking his own life after the mother of his child had committed to a rival. My pal had flung himself off a motorway pedestrian bridge.

When a marriage breaks down in the UK the husband becomes a non-person. The mother of his children has exclusive rights to the home he worked his socks off to provide. His access to his children is subject to a magistrate’s whim.

He is however obliged by law to provide for his wife and children. Another man may move into his home, sleep with his wife and become a surrogate father to his children. Yet, as often as not the fault of failure is hers and not his.

Does this go some way to explaining a taboo topic; why do far more men take their own lives than do women? Male suicide is often called the ‘silent killer’.  It is the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45 in the UK. The latest figures show that male suicide rates across the UK are three times higher than female suicide rates.

Statistics reveal 84 men take their own life each week. A suicide statistics report by the Samaritans showed there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland in 2015. Of that figure 4,997 were men, meaning 75 per cent of all suicides in 2015 in the UK and Ireland were committed by men.

Self-harm now takes more men’s lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Approximately 30,000 people commit suicide each year in the U.S. and 80% are men. Overall, males kill themselves at rates four times higher than females. The suicide rate for those ages 20-24 is 5.4 times higher for males than for females of the same age.

Nineteen published articles that included individual-level data were identified. Twelve reported a greater risk of suicide in men following relationship breakdown whilst two indicated a greater risk in women. 

In 1981, 63% of UK suicides were male, but in 2013 the figure was 78%. The proportion of male-to-female deaths by suicide has increased steadily since 1981. Let us remember men too. You can share this story on social media:

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