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Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
More men commiting suicide
Depressed man
An increasing number of men are committing suicide
An increasing number of men are committing suicide even though they have much better mental health than women.

But mental health experts say this could be because men unlike women are too embarrassed to ask for help with their problems.

An Office for National Statistics report, entitled Social Focus on Men, revealed that the suicide rate for men aged 15 to 24 had more than doubled to 16 per 100,000 of the population since 1971.

And in the 25 to 44 age group the number of suicides grew to a record high of 26 per 100,000.

We know that there is a problem with young men in particular committing suicide

Lesley Warner, of Mental Health Foundation


Figures for women show that in the 15 to 24-year-old category, just 4.1 per 100,000 committed suicide in 1999, rising to 6.5 per 100,000 for the 25 to 44 age group.

But the snapshot social survey showed that women were far more likely than men to suffer neurotic disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders, and various types of phobias.

In 2000, 135 men per 1,000 were assessed as having some kind of neurotic disorder, compared with 194 women per 1,000.

Treatment by a GP for depression has risen over the last few years, particularly among the younger men where the rate has doubled for those aged 16 to 24.

The report also highlights physical differences in the health of men and women.

Among men in the older age group the biggest killer is circulatory disease, which includes strokes and heart disease, which accounted for 40% of deaths in 1999.

The next biggest killer was cancer which claimed 25% of all male deaths that year, with prostate cancer accounting for 3%.

Among women, aged 35 to 74 cancer was the biggest killer.

Longer life span

But the good news for men is that their life expectancy has grown from 69.2 years in 1972 to just under 75 in 1998 - just five years lower than that of women.

Although there was a significant difference in life expectancy depending on social class, with professional men living to 77 and unskilled manual labourers on average living to just under 69.

The figures also showed that young men were far more likely to be killed in accidents than young women.

Some 35% of deaths among 16 to 24-year-old men involved accidents, compared to 24% of deaths among young women.

Younger men also appear to be taking health risks with sex, with a 73% rise in cases of chlamydia between 1995 and 1999 with 16 to 24-year-old men accounting for almost half of the new cases.

Younger men were also more promiscuous, with 35% in 1998 saying they had had two or more sexual partners in the previous 12 months, compared with 25% of women aged between 16 and 24.

Lesley Warner, of the Mental Health Foundation, said the suicide figures highlighted their concerns about the mental health of young men in particular.

"We know that there is a problem with young men in particular committing suicide.

"I think these statistics are really worrying and bear out thoughts in the way crisis services are not really working at the moment."

She said too many men were bottling up their problems rather than going to the professionals for help.

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