I was deeply saddened to learn that the younger of Julie Burchill’s two sons – Jack (29) – committed suicide earlier this week. Today’s Daily Mail piece on the matter is here. Hopefully Ms Burchill will in future have more sympathy for young male suicide victims than she displayed in a callous Guardian article in 1999 – here. Jack would have been around 13 at the time the article was written. We can but hope he never read it, either at the time of publication, or later.
My thanks to Dave for the link to the Guardian piece. Two extracts:
That young men succeed in suicide more often than girls isn’t really the point. Indeed, the more callous among us would say that it was quite nice for young men finally to find something that they’re better at than girls…
To ask me to feel sympathy with suicides after witnessing this (the death of her father from asbestos-induced cancer) is, I suggest, just as unfeeling and ignorant as my callousness must appear to you – like asking a starving African to sympathise with an anorexic. In a society still beset with the most vicious social deprivation and rampant cruelty to the very young, the very old and the very weak, the voluntary exits of a few hundred able-bodied young men each year are best dealt with as private tragedies rather than a public concern. Let them go.
Suicide is the leading cause of death of British men under 50, in all age groups. The male:female suicide rate differential more than doubled in the three decades between 1983 and 2013 – very close to the period in which Jack Burchill lived – from 1.7:1 to 3.5:1. My recent International Business Times article on male suicide is here.