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Spring Can Be a Dangerous Time
April 01, 2008


Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #103, March 31, 2008

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

· Book Review: The Passion Test

· Spring Can Be a Dangerous Time: Is A Man You Know In Danger Of Suicide?


Written by Noel McNaughton
(c) copyright 2008


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Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

Spring is the time of new life, but apparently it's also a time of ending our life. At least that is what the suicide statistics say. As we are now into spring in the northern hemisphere, I thought it might be a good idea to look at a phenomenon that few of us like to talk about. Men in our age group have the highest rate of suicide, and it has increased dramatically during the past ten years.

There are about 1200 words in this issue, which should take you about 4 minutes to read.



Book Review: The Passion Test

Someone suggested "The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Destiny" by Janet Attwood and Chris Attwood, was a very good book for discovering and living your passion.

I know that midlife is often a time when we either lose our passion for what we have been doing, and have trouble finding what would excite us now, or perhaps a time when we realize we have never felt passionate about what we do, and want to start living our passion. That is, if we can figure out what it is!

For many years, Elizabeth and I have done the "Lifetime Goal Setting" exercise from Allan Lakein's 1973 book "How To Get Control Of Your Time and Your Life". You can find that exercise here:

The Passion Test goes beyond the Lifetime Goal Setting Exercise, in that it helps you identify your top five passions, and then, if you are not living those passions, guides you in doing so.

The book is readable, practical, and I think can be useful at a time when many of us are trying to figure out what we really want to do with our lives.

Spring Can Be a Dangerous Time: Is A Man You Know In Danger Of Suicide?

My first experience with suicide happened when I was in high school. The victim was Gunnar, a family friend, who was 38 at the time.

The neighbours were shocked, but not surprised. During the previous year or so, Gunnar, who lived by himself, had been told by his doctor to quit drinking alcohol, cut down on coffee, and quit smoking. Everybody thought he really didn't have much to live for.

Gunnar had no social support system. He had always lived with his dad, who had died a couple of years earlier. Gunnar was quiet and shy and, as one neighbour said, "He talked a bit when he was drinking, but when he was sober he didn't even talk to himself."

A couple of my university classmates committed suicide during their middle years.

When I began doing research on men at midlife, I found suicide rates among middle-aged men are much higher than for women, and the rate is increasing. A new five-year analysis of death rates recently released by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that the suicide rate among 45-to-54-year-olds increased nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2004, the latest year studied, far out pacing changes in nearly every other age group.

Women attempt suicide more frequently, but men are more effective. Four out of five actual suicides are men. Of the more than 32,000 people who committed suicide in 2004, nearly half - 14,607 - were 40 to 64 years old (6,906 of those were 45 to 54). The numbers for the two age groups that traditionally commit suicide at higher rates, seniors and teens were: 5,198 were over 65, and 2,434 were under 21 years old.

Eighty percent of all suicides in the US are white, and 20% are non-white (Asian, Black, Latino).

Men who live in rural areas, especially less-populated areas, such as the western states in the US, are more likely to commit suicide, and the majority of suicides happen in the spring, although I don't know whether anyone knows why.

No one seems to know what is causing the increase in suicide rates among middle aged men, but some experts suggest it may be related to increase use of all kinds of prescription drugs. As we are aging, we are using far more drugs, and because drugs are available over the internet, many are self-medicating with some powerful drugs in combinations that doctors would not recommend.

Warning Signs

My friend Jim was severely depressed and at risk of suicide a few years ago. He went to the doctor for help with insomnia, and his doctor recognized the danger signs. The first thing his doctor asked was whether he had any guns at home. When Jim said he did, the doctor told him to give them to a neighbour for safe keeping for a while.

Jim then went on an anti-depressant, and had a number of sessions with a psychiatrist. As he recovered, he got interested in helping other men at risk of suicide, and now he gives talks at company safety meetings.

He tells men that if they, or a person they work with, begin to do substandard work, become uncharacteristically lackadaisical in their work habits, come to work late, and/or begin to drink more, perhaps stopping for a few drinks on the way home, they may be in danger.

He says you are seeing your work mate during his best eight hours, and the rest of his day is likely to feel much worse to him.

Here is some information from men at risk:

Suicide is rarely a spur of the moment decision. In the days and hours before people kill themselves, there are usually clues and warning signs.

The strongest and most disturbing signs are verbal – ‘I can’t go on,’ ‘Nothing matters any more’ or even ‘I’m thinking of ending it all.’ Such remarks should always be taken seriously. Of course, in most cases these situations do not lead to suicide. But, generally, the more signs a person displays, the higher the risk of suicide.


  • * Suffering a major loss or life change
  • * Family history of suicide or violence
  • * Sexual or physical abuse
  • * Death of a close friend or family member
  • * Divorce or separation, ending a relationship
  • * Failing academic performance, impending exams, exam results
  • * Job loss, problems at work
  • * Impending legal action
  • * Recent imprisonment or upcoming release


  • * Showing a marked change in behaviour, attitudes or appearance
  • * Crying
  • * Fighting
  • * Behaving recklessly
  • * Breaking the law
  • * Impulsiveness
  • * Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • * Self-mutilation
  • * Writing about death and suicide
  • * Previous suicidal behaviour
  • * Extremes of behaviour
  • * Changes in behaviour
  • * Getting affairs in order and giving away valued possessions

Physical Changes

  • * Lack of energy
  • * Disturbed sleep patterns – sleeping too much or too little
  • * Loss of appetite
  • * Becoming depressed or withdrawn
  • * Sudden weight gain or loss
  • * Increase in minor illnesses
  • * Change of sexual interest
  • * Sudden change in appearance
  • * Lack of interest in appearance

Thoughts and Emotions

  • * Thoughts of suicide
  • * Loneliness – lack of support from family and friends
  • * Rejection, feeling marginalized
  • * Deep sadness or guilt
  • * Unable to see beyond a narrow focus
  • * Daydreaming
  • * Anxiety and stress
  • * Helplessness
  • * Loss of self-worth

Helping someone who is suicidal

Here is some advice from an Australian website called Suicide Help Line:

Letting them express their thoughts and feelings can help a suicidal person ‘share the load’ of their troubles and put things in perspective. It’s important not to minimise their problems or be judgmental. Avoid statements such as “You don’t know how lucky you are” and “You shouldn’t feel like that”. Instead, acknowledge the pain they’re experiencing right now. Often, knowing someone cares enough to get involved and listen can be a great help to someone who is suicidal.

Supporting someone who is suicidal can be exceptionally hard on you and it’s important that you also look after yourself. It might be beneficial to seek professional support yourself, or to talk about things to someone close to you.

There is a lot more helpful information on this website that I recommend if you think someone you know might be suicidal.

We are at a dangerous age, but we can get through it by looking out for each other.


Brilliant directions from a football coach: "You guys line up alphabetically by height," and "you guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle."


Unusual travel Web sites: " - Lets you plan travel based on your interests, and makes sure you don't miss an important event. Plan your journey around festivals, performances, even meteor showers in locations across the globe. You can search by location and/or date. Just a few of the event topics are: Adventure, Classical Music, Clubs & Parties, Film, Food & Drink, Heritage, Jazz, Kids & Family, Literature, Music, Natural Phenomena, Opera, Performing & Visual Arts.


We spend our lives on the run: we get up by the clock, eat and sleep by the clock, get up again, go to work - and then we retire. And what do they give us? A bloody clock. - - - - Dave Allen


Like coffee but afraid it's not good for you? Try the coffee I drink:

Useful Products at

Just scroll down the page till you come to the healthy coffee section.


I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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