Figures released in April 2020 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found the number of suicides recorded in England rose to a record high after surging by a quarter in two years.

Almost three-quarters of self-inflicted deaths in the last three months of 2019 were by males, with men in the 50-54 age bracket more likely to commit suicide1.

Disclosing problems

Tracey Paxton, managing director at The Employee Resilience Company Limited, a partner of BHSF, believes men who hide their problems could have a greater risk of committing suicide with males three times more likely to take their own life compared to women2.

“Depression is often diagnosed less frequently in men because of the tendency to deny illness, self-monitor symptoms and self-treat. A survey conducted by YouGov has found over a quarter of men have not sought medical help for the last mental health problem they experienced compared to 19% of women3.

“Men could be less likely to seek help for emotional problems and hide them. Over a third of men have waited more than two years or have never disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or family member4.

“There’s also the stigma around masculinity, men needing to be tough and coming across as weak if they seek help. Such rigid gender norms may make it difficult for men to reach out and ask for support when they need it.

“However, I feel positive steps are being taken to encourage men to open up and seek help. It was refreshing in May 2020 to see a BBC football documentary (Royal Team Talk) fronted by the Duke of Cambridge to raise awareness of men’s mental health and suicide. If using football and sport is a way to get more males to open up and break the taboo around men’s mental health, this can only help.”

Impact of coronavirus

There’s also evidence coronavirus has led to an increase in calls to mental health services. Samaritans are receiving 7,000 requests a day for help, with a third of these relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research from the charity has also found middle-aged men with low-incomes are most at risk of suicide during the coronavirus crisis. They’re also the least likely to seek help5.

Calls into BHSF RISE since the pandemic began has increased by 53% with employees reporting higher levels of anxiety and distress.

Paxton says RISE has also received an increase in calls from male employees during these challenging times.

“We’ve received calls from men who are currently furloughed, concerned about unemployment, redundancy, losing their home and unable to meet financial obligations.

“Some men could view themselves as the ‘provider for the family’. However, the impact of COVID-19 goes beyond the economic impact and there are other themes associated as to why men could take their own life.”


Paxton adds ‘it’s ok for people not to be ok’ and support and treatments are there for those with suicidal thoughts.

“The reasons why someone may choose to end their own life are always multifactorial, complex and varied.”

“Getting help for anyone expressing suicidal intent or showing the warning signs is incredibly important. There are effective treatments for depression. Psychotherapy, antidepressants and often a combination of both can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and lowering the risk of suicide.

“Within BHSF RISE, employees can be fast-tracked through to qualified specialists to access a treatment pathway tailored to their specific needs.

“We carry out assessments of presenting issues within employees and keep an eye on the very early indications of an increase in suicide attempts and suicides. All our staff are trained in Suicide Prevention and have an understanding of the signs to look out for and the skills required to approach someone who is struggling.”


If you, or know of anyone who is struggling with their mental health, we’re here to help.

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