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There’s cause to worry about our sons as well as our daughters

2 May 2014

The graph below shows one of the most unsettling trends I’ve come across. It’s the female and male suicide rates, and while the former has halved since the 1980s, the latter has fallen by just 8 per cent. Men account for 77 per cent of all suicides, and the group now most likely to take their lives are men aged 40-44.

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These are the starkest statistics in what I argue in this week’s magazine is a ‘crisis of masculinity’ in our country. There are male-specific problems ranging from catastrophic mental health conditions to boys falling behind girls at every stage of their education. Men get ahead in the workplace only because women are forced by high childcare costs to leave. That’s not true equality, is it?

This isn’t about a battle of the sexes: identifying a crisis of masculinity doesn’t mean that women don’t still suffer many problems in British society. Both problems can exist at once, and the reason for highlighting the crisis is not to argue that we should feel ‘most sorry’ for any particular group, but that there are serious reasons to worry about our sons when often our culture tells us we should fret about our daughters.

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  • mikewaller

    What isn’t mentioned above is that women used to make more suicide attempts than males but males succeeded far more often. Some possible explanations offered were that women were more likely to make half-hearted attempts that were really “cries for help” and usually involved tablets whereas men very often went for methods such as guns and ropes which were most unlikely to fail. Whether this is still the pattern, I don’t know.

    That said, I have long contended that we and all other sentient species have evolved an in-built evaluatory system which rewards comparative success with heightened libido, superior health and a strong sense of well-being. Conversely, deeming oneself a comparative failure, results in lowered libido, poor health and a sense of worthlessness. Originally shaped in the context of human groups of, say, 200 or so, it is now operating in a globalised world in which the downside is having a devastating effect on the very many people, particularly males, who cannot find successful roles. Even understanding what is actually going one does not guarantee being able to do much about it; however it would be a good start. Should you want to know more put “Family stigma, sexual selection and the evolutionary origins of severe depression’s physiological consequences” into Google.

  • Liz

    A survey of nearly 7,000 children between the ages of 11-16 in the UK has found that after the age of 11, the happiness of kids drops a substantial amount. And girls were more vulnerable than boys in this slump.

    The study, carried out by 50 youth charities for the New Philanthropy Capital think tank, measured happiness in eight categories: “overall satisfaction, self-esteem, emotional well-being, resilience and satisfaction with friends, family, community and school.”

    The report found that by age 11, the average girl’s emotional well being is already worse than that of boys, and while that age is pretty difficult for anyone, this particular generation has had to deal with the huge influx of easily accessible images and beauty standards those images create. Researchers have pointed to an increased exposure to technology and tech-related issues like cyber-bullying (hello Gwangi) and the accessibility of sexualized images (hello Spectator) as one of the many elements in this pattern.

  • cartimandua


    You are from China are you not? You seem to have some familiarity with China.

    China is so abusive to its children it has vast amounts of poor mental health in adults and one of the highest suicide rates of any country which actually counts.
    It has extremely high suicide rates in both adults and in children although there are more suicides in women.
    There is nothing we want to learn from China about education.

    One of the problems we have here in the UK is jobs have been outsourced by actually sending work overseas and by allowing millions in to compete for work here.
    That will have put men in particular under tremendous pressure.
    Women journey about the world for work less.

    • Liz

      No, he’s Eddie.

      • cartimandua

        Eddie??? Whoever he is he makes the point for anyone who says
        the Internet enables misogyny.
        What is darn silly is that the newspaper comment strands enable misogyny (and ban women) when women these days have economic power and could save the print media.

        • Liz

          Eddie is a bitter TEFL teacher who was sacked for some shady sexual misconduct against a female student so rails against the Yewtree “witchhunts” and women in general. He lives in Wales with his mother. He thinks he’s an immigrant and can therefore be as racist as he likes. He goes under about ten different posting names which vote one another up.

          In my view, he ruins the Spectator comment sections by turning them into a toxic fiefdom where most people fear to tread or soon abandon, but he is tolerated and enabled by their skewed ideas on “freedom of speech”.

          • cartimandua

            It is a piece of cod which passeth all understanding who the mods “allow to speak” and who they do not on all the main media forums.

  • Gwangi

    ‘Men get ahead in the workplace only because women are forced by high childcare costs to leave’
    Oh so all men only ever succeed because women (who you assert are always better) are not in the workplace because of childcare.
    Utter fiction and offensive crapp. Lies, in other words.
    Men achieve because of talent, aptitude and hard work. By contrast, many women owe their promotion and senior management careers to unfair advantage given to them because they are female, thereby getting the chance of leapfrogging over better and more able men – as some women like Cressida Dicke are prepared to admit.

  • cartimandua

    It has occurred to me that when speaking to my son about how he was going to approach getting his first job he said he might look at Defence contractors because
    one “has to be a British citizen”. He wouldn’t be competing with the rest of the world
    for those jobs.
    A lot of work has been taken or sent abroad. A lot of workers are now in competition with the whole world really.
    Of course that has driven people to despair. I recall with horror the suicide of a young man with a PhD in Physics. He couldn’t get a job.
    If we want to protect our people (of any ethnicity or origin) we have to stop allowing jobs to be offshored.
    If you emigrate to the USA you have to prove you have skills no US citizen already has.

    • Gwangi

      You have a son? May god help him!

  • Liz

    I expect that like the murder rate, the female suicide rate is falling in large part because if improved A&E intervention rather than falling incidence.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “For the times they are a changing.”

  • hdb

    Men get ahead in the workplace because few women are stupid enough to think the long hours necessary are worthwhile. They rather be at home with the kids or out socialising – and I commend them for their sense. Nobody on their death bed ever regretted not spending enough hours in the office.

    • Gwangi

      Yep, but men without status and money via work get looked down upon, disrespected and disparaged by other men and especially by women.
      So actually, it is women who have to change – to unlearn their evolutionary instincts to see men with professional power and status and superior, and instead to show respect to men who may work part time or be unemployed and poor.
      yeah right!

  • volcanopete

    About 3 months ago my next door neighbour knocked at the door early one Sunday morning to inform me his son,aged 32, has hanged himself last night.Awful.
    His son was in the group of men which seems to be most affected but why?
    Why? Why?Why?

    • cartimandua

      Did you ever have any thoughts about why? Was it work or emotional life? Was it mental illness which went un noticed or treated?

  • Liz

    Women attempt suicide at twice the rate than men do. It’s just that men tend to favour impulsive, violent behaviour whereas women favour domestically-available, slow burn means of self-destruction.

    • rubyduck

      and therefore survive
      do you know the figures for attempted suicide ?

      • cartimandua

        140,000 although those will only be the attempts which end up in hospital and are recorded.

  • berosos_bubos

    The classroom and the office have become very feminized environments.

    • cartimandua

      That male jobs have gone is not the fault of females.

      • Gwangi

        No, the ‘male’ jobs have not gone. The manual jobs both men and women did have gone – for women used to join the harvest too, sell matches, work in factories. That affects only the bottom 20% of society – the lower working class.
        What has changed is that our society is massively feminised, our school system fails boys, and a huge number of boys lack a father thanks to divorces and the poisonous effects of single mother ‘families’ on them. And if you don’t believe me, read up on psychiatry – every single bad thing in life (suicide, criminality, educational failure, bad health – physical and mental – poverty, etc etc etc) is more likely to happen to a boy brought up without a father. Divorce and family breakdown kills. Mostly boys.
        And I am sure if millions of girls were growing up without mothers or female role models (and with only female teachers in a feminised school system where female traits were seen as good, and male ones as bad) you would soon be screeching about how damaging that was to them. So why do you refuse to recognise the equal and opposite eh?

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    This item highlights the difference between men and women. It’s mostly bollocks.

    • an ex-tory voter

      That started my Saturday morning with a grin :-)

  • cartimandua

    No Des
    We no longer have male bonding in the military, or farming, or industry.
    Work people do now is not at all communal and very often a long way from the satisfaction of completing a task.
    Instead of a craftsman making a whole object people “do a bit of it” on an assembly line.
    Not much satisfaction there.

  • Des Demona

    You’ve only just realised this? Seriously? But take that graph back 100 years and you will see that it was ever thus the case. this is no post modern ”crisis of masculinity”

    • Gwangi

      Yes, but of course specific female health issues get 8 times more spending from the NHS than specific male ones. All attention is given to women – instead of parity.

      Men do not ask for help or go to the doctors – esp working class men – and that should be accepted (there is NOTHING wrong in men soldiering on – it created civilisation and won may a war against evil).

      The NHS should go to those men – mobile units for men’s health out to the Welsh valleys and English council estates. That is what SHOULD happen, but the loud rich noisy feminist organisations actively work against such things, and men by their very nature do not crave victimhood or demand help like women.

      It is only recently that testing for men at risk of AAA (which killed my own father) came in.
      Yet billions are spent on breast cancer and cosmetic surgery for women. Men pay most tax to fund all that of course. Tsss.

      • Liz

        “8 times more spending”
        Citation needed.

        There’s clearly a great deal wrong with men soldiering on: instead of accessing the free health care that is available to them, they turn into a drain on society and businesses and they die earlier, or alternatively they turn into bitter Internet trolls.

        • Des Demona

          ”turn into bitter internet trolls” says the resident misandrist troll. Priceless.

          • Liz

            Here’s the other one.

            • Des Demona

              And people wonder why there are so few female comedians?

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