Male suicide: “Just months after this photo, my husband took his own life”

As shocking statistics reveal suicide is the largest killer of men under 45 in the UK, Closer speaks to a woman left devastated by suicide

Clare and Mark

by Poppy Danby & Francine Anker |

When Clare Francis looks at this happy picture of herself with husband Mark - taken at her sister's wedding in 2010 - she still struggles to understand how just a few months later he made the tragic decision to take his own life.

Clare, 41, from Cheshire, says: “Mark was only 36 and had so much to live for – a great job in PR, a happy relationship and we had plans to start a family. But underneath the surface he was fighting depression.

“Like many men, he bottled his feelings up and worried people would think less of him. His death devastated me, I thought we had our whole future ahead of us.”

Depressed man, depression, male suicide
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK (Credit: Getty) ©Getty

Sadly, each year, round 6,000 people in the UK take their own lives – but the problem is much more prevelant amongst men.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics revealed 75 per cent of deaths from suicide in 2015 were male.

So what’s behind the staggering difference in the number of men taking their own lives compared to women?

Joel Beckman, General Manager for mental health charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), says: “One of the main reasons why men are more affected than women is because the traditional stereotypes of needing to be strong and silent still exist and speaking out when feeling down is somehow seen as ‘weak’.

"Women often have better networks and are more able to talk through their issues with friends and family. Whereas men often either don't have the tools themselves to deal with it or can't talk to their friends about how they're feeling.

"This is becuase there is still an element of shame linked to mental illness and men often don't have the necessary communication skills to talk about their problems.

"Financial concerns are often something that affect men too. We saw a spike in calls to our helplines post financial crash and when the bedroom tax kicked in."

Clare and Mark
Clare and Mark at her sister's wedding (Credit: Clare Francis)* ©Clare Francis

Clare, a bank director, met Mark through work in 2000 and they began dating a year later.

She says: "When we met he was outgoing and fun. But when we moved in together four years later I notied he could become withdrawn.

"He told me he'd been suffering from depression for several years but was seeing a counsellor and taking antidepressants. I was worried but he said it was under control."

The couple married in 2007, but Mark still struggled with bouts of depression.

Clare says: "He could be fine one minute and down the next. Some days he wouldn't speak to me and just wanted to be on his own. I wanted to talk to him about his depression but he said he didn't want to bring me down.

"I couldn't talk to his family or friends becuase he was adamant that he didn't want anyone to know and I respected his wishes. I never realised the extent of Mark's illness or dreamed he'd take his own life."

But in March 2011, Clare's world was turned upside down.

She recalls: "I was at work and when I got out from a meeting I had a text from Mark saying he'd left a note at home explaining everything and that he was sorry.

"I phoned him and when he didn't answer I had a bad feeling. I then called my dad in a panic and he offered to call Mark's workplace - who told him the tragic news that Mark had taken his own life while on his lunch break.

"I was in total disbelief and broke down. It was a shock because a couple of days before we'd gone for a nice walk and talked about our future plans."

Clare now works with charity MIND to raise awareness about male suicide.

She adds: "It's so important we encourage men to open up. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of."

MALE SUICIDE: THE FACTS

male suicide, depressed man
(Credit: Getty) ©Getty

Suicide rates, UK

According to the ONS (Office of National Statistics), there were 6,188 suicides were recorded in the UK in 2015 (which are the most recent statistics available at the time of writing). This was a slight increase on 2014, when 6,122 suicides were recorded.

Male suicide rates, UK

Men account for three quarters of all suicides in the UK.

In fact, according to the male suicide prevention charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably),suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK - which is a truly shocking statistic.

But it's not just men under 45 who are most at risk. In 2014, the highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 45-49, at 26.5 per 100,000.

Male suicide rates compared to female

According to research by The Samritans, men in the UK and Republic of Ireland are more than three times more likely to take their own lives than women.

However, they also pointed out that while the male suicide rate decreased (by 5.6%) from 2013 - 14, the rate of female suicide was up (by 8.3%).

Male suicide epidemic

The shocking statistics around male suicide have led many to claim that we are in the midst of a male suicide epidemic - and not just in the UK.

Research published in the British Columbia Medical Journal titled 'The silent epidemic of male suicide' explained: "Men have a shockingly high rate of death by suicide compared with wo­men. Across all countries reporting these data (except China and India) males show a suicide rate that is 3.0 to 7.5 times that of women."

Male suicide charity

There are a number of charities and organisations which tackle male suicide - both prevention, raising awareness and also providiing support to those affected by suicide.

**CALM **

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is an award-winning charity dedicated to preventing male suicide.

Mind

Mind isn't specifically a male suicide charity, but is a national charity who provide help and support to anyone facing any kind of mental health issue.

The Samaritans

Again, although The Samaritans are not dedicated to male suicide prevention, the charity offers round-the-clock help and support to anyone who needs it. You can contact them directly, here.

National Suicide Prevention Alliance

The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) was set up in 2013 with the aim of reducing suicide. On their website they explain: "The NSPA is an alliance of public, private and voluntary organisations in England who care about suicide prevention and are willing to take individual and collective action to reduce suicide and support those bereaved or affected by suicide."

You can find information about how you can get involved on their website.

Have you been affected by male suicide? We'd love to hear your experiences on Facebook or Twitter.

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