The blokes of Top Gear shine their headlights on the fate over unemployed men over 45

It’s never a good time to lose your job. If you happen to be over 45 it can be a real struggle. The guys over at Top Gear have just found this out as the show finds itself in limbo with its figurehead is sacked.

James May set up an unemployment YouTube channel showing him playing the recorder as well as offering cooking tips. Richard Hammond has uploaded what the telegraph described as a hilariously painful sheep herding video as a result of boredom. Clarkson has written about his feelings directly he is quoted in Jalopnik as saying:

“Playing patience on my laptop is not the answer. Because when you get bored, and you will, it’s still only eight in the morning and you can’t even think about going to the pub for four more hours. And then you have to decide not to go to the pub because that’s the road to ruin and despair”. 

These are three very popular and successful men who have lots of options open to them. They have creative outlets and we must assume aren’t likely to be under an extra burden due to suddenly having no money coming in. Yet with their jobs suddenly being taking away they seem lost, talking about despair and boredom. How must it feel, then, for us mere mortals?

One man quoted in Gawker who lost his job and has been unable to get another for 6 years despite his previously uninterrupted 24 year work history and 2 degrees. He had to move back in with his parents in his 50s. That combined with a lack of money killed off his social life. How does he feel?

“I had a blood test this morning... I pray that the results come back with cancer or leukaemia or something that will cause my demise. How sick is that? But I pray for the sweet release of death every night. My life ended 6 years ago. Now, I just exist. And I don't want to anymore.”

This is a tale you will hear again and again. Middle aged men losing their job being unable to get a new one. This hurts; soon down in the dumps becomes something far more dark. They can begin looking towards alcohol and other unhealthy habits to try and cope, to lessen the pain if only a bit. If they get low enough then they may take their own life. They can’t cope any longer. Broken by the raw weight of their own emotions

We know that men place a lot of value on their job. We think that our job says a lot of our value to society and to our family. We at Year of the Male have previously argued that men who have lost their job be considered an at risk group for suicide and that they should be given extra support this goes double for men who have been out of a job for a prolonged period of time.

What leaves men in their late middle age more at risk is blatant ageism.  Unemployed people over 50 have been out of work for over a year compared to a quarter of those in the 18-24 years category who have well documented struggles of their own.

If you not convinced of the ageism than Anthony Barlow conducted a little experiment that might change your mind. He submitted two CVs one real one edited. In one he was his true 60 years of age in the other he was 23 year old edited so it was believable. The 23 year old got an interview the 60 old with better experience got rejection.

The guys over at Top Gear have helped to highlight the struggle of thousands of men over 45. The idea that they should be self sufficient and provide for their family collides with ingrained ageism preventing them from finding a job. The result is men who feel they can’t live up to what they expect of themselves. This hurts the economy, their health and can result in them taking their own lives just to make the pain go away.

It shouldn’t be this way. We have to offer men support when the go a long time without a job. Help them find employment or an alternative way to spend their time so that we can have a happier, healthier society.