It’s easy to see where a society has got it wrong using dubious statistics. I don’t believe the ‘increase in hate crime’ figures and the rhetoric often thrust upon us. The last few years have seen an apparent increase in ‘hate’ due, in the main, as to how the figures are recorded. Now, if you are asked ‘do you believe this was a hate crime?’, you simply reply, through the face of your fury ‘yes’ and it goes official. It is crude and wrongly marks us Brits out to be a nation of hateful thugs, which, in the main, we are not.

Some statistics when dealing with serious subject matter are, however, reliable, collated with care and using fact, not opinion, to form their results, and that includes suicide. There has been lots of emphasis, with Covid and all its secondary effects, on mental health and quite rightly so. Much of the crisis is due to corona, modern stresses, financial worries or the overuse and reliance on technology in the young. The figures however make stark reading: in 2018, there were 6,859 suicides in the UK with men of my age (45 to 49) being the most likely to succumb, at a rate of 27.1 per 100,000 people.

Young people aged 16 to 24 have a 16.9 rating, making suicide the single biggest killer amongst that age group. The notes claim workplace, housing and financial problems, as well as internet use being citied in 26 per cent of all suicides of under 20s.

So herein lie the issues: we feel lonely, we feel as if no one is listening and we feel as if, still, a cry for help is nothing but highlighting a problem that will no doubt become exacerbated as no one really hears once we shout out. Many identify it as a weak spot on which to pour even more scorn, especially online.

Talking on the phone is alien to many menfolk. Personally, after a day’s work, when conversations have been long and persistent, I like nothing better than to, at the risk of sounding all earth mother, ‘ground myself’. My release is a bike ride across the fields where I don’t have to speak to anyone bar the odd member of the local blue rinse brigade who seem to believe that riding a bike at a sedentary pace is unacceptable while letting their poodle run loose across the track is. If the weather is not great, I go and stand in the garden and feel the rain, or listen to the birds while I sup a can of Diet Coke and get back to being me as the stresses of the day dissipate. Sadly, many don’t have, or feel they don’t have, a release valve and due to current circumstances, or issues from their past haunting them, it seems preferable to end it all than face it down.

Recently Tony Williams from Hampshire, 75, placed a heart wrenching note in his window after the death of his wife of 35 years, Jo. It read ‘I have no friends or family. No one to talk to. I find the unremitting silence 24 hours a day unbearable torture. Can no one help me? He also paid £120 to place the ad in two local papers and didn’t receive one single reply, which should sadden us all.

It’s a damning indictment on modern day society when, during and after lockdown, as we claim to have found some peace, to have re-engaged with, and gotten close to nature as we slow down, as much has been humanly possible in the modern age, that not one single person could have taken the time to respond to a man who has swallowed his pride and admitted he is struggling and needs help.

It hasn’t taken long for the ‘be kind’ rhetoric to be proven to be little more than a hashtag and virtue signal, as we revisit the grind and shun those who discreetly ask for a little more from us. But now we have work, we need to do a shop on the way home and cook dinner and get ready to repeat tomorrow as we make excuses to put ourselves first once again and leave desperate souls like Tony rattling around listening to the carriage clock tick, as he checks out the window to see if that sound was someone coming up the garden path.

It’s no wonder suicide rates are so high and maybe it’s time we again set the machine to default and started to put others first to save just one sad, sorrowful, lonely end. Maybe by us each giving a little more time to others, consciously, we can forge the odd new beginning and stem the tide of wasteful, unfortunate ends.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher

Call Samaritans on 116 123, email or visit if you need someone to talk to.