Recently there has been an alarming increase in mental health problems across the board. Medical professionals are reporting an increase in individuals seeking help for anxiety & depression and other mental health disorders. Sadly, there has also been a rise in the number of suicides among men. In the UK, male suicides account for three quarters of all suicides. Men aged between 45 and 49 years have the highest incidence of suicide in the UK and the trend is exactly the same in Ireland. Figures from 2019 show that in Ireland the overall suicide rate for males was three times higher than for females, with men aged between 45 and 54 years having the highest suicide rate. There is also clear evidence of a link between self-harm and suicide in males.
Having considered these statistics, it is vital that we find out why this group is the most affected by suicide. Is there an underlying reason behind this year-on-year increase? What can be done to help these individuals before it is too late?
There are a variety of reasons behind this disturbing suicide trend. For example, studies have shown that issues such as unemployment, mounting debt and poor mental health all contribute to depression and suicide ideation. Very often men fail to connect with support services for mental health issues which only exacerbates the problem. This may be due to an inability on their part to acknowledge any community-based support services, or it could be due to embarrassment or shame at seeking help for mental health issues. It is vital that these individuals are offered help and support before they reach crisis point.
On the positive side, many charities in the UK and Ireland are trying to raise awareness of the increase in male suicide. Phone lines, online support groups and in-person support groups are all crucial services that can provide the vital help that is needed. The Samaritans in particular are doing important work in this area and have launched the ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ report into the rise in male suicide.
(The Samaritans 116 123)
There is support out there, but it needs to be accessible and less of a taboo if men are to seek the help they need in order to prevent this needless loss of life.