What’s the biggest killer of men under 45?

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Last week I was nominated for the #22kill challenge – 22 push-ups a day for 22 days to raise awareness for combat veterans. Why?

22 veterans are taking their own lives every day!

I have spoken about suicide on many occasions in the past and this is just a small way I can raise more awareness around an issue I deeply care about.
Furthermore, the harsh reality is that it’s not only veterans who are taking their own lives.
The biggest killer of men under 45 is the act of taking their own life.
Suicide, though I don’t like using the term as it implies one is ‘committing’ a crime, is a topic which people often shy away from having conversations around. This may be due to not knowing enough about it or that people may not always know what the ‘right’ thing to say is.
41% of men contemplating suicide have never spoken to anyone about their feelings and a survey commissioned by the Samaritans shows a third of people polled would not talk to someone if they felt suicidal.
This is what we need to get better at – talking. Campaigns such as #ItsOkayToTalk are definitely making conversations happen, but we’ve got a lot more work to do to get men talking.


Every 2 hours a man takes his life in the UK.

2014 saw 4,623 male suicides in the UK.

The problem is that people simply don’t realise the severity of the issue. A recent YouGov poll shows that only a fifth (20%) of the public realise that suicide is the most likely cause of death for men aged under 45.

The reasons behind why people chose the ultimate permanent solution to a temporary problem are very complex. Loneliness, psychological disorders, poor self-esteem and poor mental health can all be contributing factors, but one factor that is consistently present in suicides (in particular work-related suicides) is stress.

Stress, depression and suicide do not discriminate; they have no regard for age, gender, job role, ethnicity or class. With this being said the facts show that some groups are more prone to stress and depression and therefore at a higher risk of taking their own life.

Three-quarters of people taking their own lives in the UK are men.

So why are men more prone to taking their own lives?

1. Generally speaking, many men across different cultures are reluctant to talk about emotions. Men can experience a ‘big-build’: they don’t recognise or deal with their distress, but let it build up to breaking point
2. Men are much less likely than women to have a positive view of counselling or therapy
3. Masculinity is associated with control, but when men are depressed or in crisis, they can feel out of control. This can propel some men towards suicidal behaviour as a way of regaining control
4. More than women, men respond to stress by taking risks or misusing alcohol and drugs. They also use more lethal, violent and ‘effective’ methods of suicide in comparison to women

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Neil Shah
Chief De-stressing Officer
Phone: +44 (0) 203 142 8650
Email: neil@

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