Single? Female? Suicide?

// 28 February 2008

Yes, it’s a valid, topical piece of news, reporting on new ONS figures about suicide rates in the UK.

The numbers from the ONS indicate that in 2005, 30.8 single men per 100,000 died by suicide, compared with 10.6 per 100,000 married men. (The apparent link between male mental health and marriage has been well-documented before.) They also show that in the same period, 10.3 single women per 100,000 died by suicide compared with 3.6 per 100,000 married women.

How do the Daily Mail report this? Not with a serious report looking at this disparity. Not with a news item mentioning that single men are three times more likely to die by suicide than single women (and this high suicide rate among single men is of course desperately concerning).

No. Why, they cover it with the breezy little headline Single Women Three Times More Likely To Kill Themselves Than Married Peers. And what is their advice? Their chosen expert, Professor Nigel Wellman (oh, the finger-stinging irony), kindly offers this suggestion for those of us without a wedding ring on our fingers: “Married people are likely to be more stable as they have constant support they can turn to in times of need. It is difficult to know what can be done other than encourage more people to get married.”

Better get on that straight away, everyone. It’s the 29th tomorrow. Get proposing. YOU OWE IT TO YOUR FUTURE MENTAL HEALTH.

Comments From You

Louise // Posted 29 February 2008 at 9:27 am

This comes fast on last nights reporting that 56% of children are now born outside marriage. I challenge the notion that legally validated “marriages” are the right measure.

Why is it the categories have been constructed as “married” and “single/widowed/divorced/long term committed but not married relationship/all other people”. We vaunt marriage as if it has some special value over (hopefully) happy memories of a day celebrating a relationship and a piece of paper entitling you to some legal rights such as next-of-kin and inheritance. Marriage is what you make of it, not some panacea for all ills. Surely it’s time we accepted that “marriage” isn’t the marker of a good relationship – a good relationship is whether that’s state sanctioned or not.

Steph Jones // Posted 29 February 2008 at 11:51 am

That article absolutely incensed me today!

It appears to be less concerned about the issues directly, or for women and their health, but merely about re-enforcing its political/editorial attitude towards women, and their expectations in society/choices. And the Daily Mailicious never missed an opportunity to attack this Governments policies!

Jane Purcell // Posted 29 February 2008 at 3:45 pm

The Mail piece urging us women to get married for the sake of our mental health gave me a good snigger actually. Reminded me of a joke:

Q: How do you confuse a Daily Mail reader?

A: With the headline: Asylum Seekers Kill Paedophiles

Diane // Posted 1 March 2008 at 12:09 am

Claiming marriage prevents suicide is just another version of “she only needs a good sexing”. What it totally ignores about suicide is that many depressed women remain alive (and massively depressed) simply for their family’s sake.

Yay, nothing like guilt for keeping someone in a state of perpetual misery just for the pleasure of cleaning someone’s toilet and cooking their dinner.

The patriarchy approves.

sian // Posted 1 March 2008 at 9:39 am

what really irritates me is the mail totally glosses over the fact that the most common suicides are unmarried men. it promotes the idea that single or cohabiting women are all obsessed with getting that ring and will kill themselves over it, when actually not being married appears to be more harmful for male mental health. and ignores the fact that women have higher rates of depression and lower rates of suicide (i think) which goes across the board, and ignores the many multi faceted reasons why women may be depressed or suicidal, married or not.


David Space // Posted 27 March 2008 at 5:14 am

“this high suicide rate among single men is of course desperately concerning”

Really? To whom? The government is not, as far as I know, paying too much attention to the problem. I have never read a newspaper article worrying about the issue. And the majority of responses to your post show little concern too. They seem more concerned about the fact that the Mail is suggesting women would be better off getting married. (Which admittedly is rubbish – but those comments certainly don’t support the idea that male suicide is desperately concerning to many people).

The fact is, our society is more comfortable with men’s deaths than women’s. For instance, a women in the audience on Question Time (just after one of our female sailors was kidnapped by the Iranians) asked if this showed that women should not go into combat. Every panellist focused on the point that the principle of equality demands that she have the right to do so. But none suggested that men’s lives were equally deserving of protection or that the questioner should show as much concern for the male sailors who were kidnapped.

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