Suicidal Men DO seek help
A new study of suicide in middle-age men challenges the old adage that men don’t seek help and emphasises the need for frontline services to genuinely work together to reduce suicide.
The latest report from the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health 'Suicide By Middle Aged Men' examined suicides among men aged 40-54 in 2017. (There were 1,516 of these from which a random sample of approximately 20% - 288 individuals - was chosen for in-depth investigation.)
Nearly all of the men who took their own lives (91%) had been in contact with at least one frontline service or agency. Two thirds (67%) had been in touch in the three months before their deaths. Usually contact was with their GP or other primary care services (82%). But half had been in contact with mental health services and nearly a third (30%) in contact with the justice system.
Although each suicide is unique, the report gives some insight in the sorts of factors often involved.
Over half (57%) were experiencing economic problems: 30% were unemployed, and a fifth (21%) were divorced or separated. Over a third (36%) had a problem with alcohol, 31% with illicit drugs.
Over half (52%) had a pre-existing physical health condition, most commonly heart problems such as high blood pressure, respiratory problems such as asthma, digestive problems such as cirrhosis of the liver and chronic pain.
Nearly half (44%) had previously self-harmed and over a third (34%) appeared to have been affected by bereavement. One in seven (15%) had used the internet in ways that were suicide-related, often searching for information about methods
Despite the high levels of contact with frontline service, very little of this contact was with psychological services - only 5% of the men were engaged with talking therapies. This being so other services need to step up.
‘There is a vital role in prevention particularly for primary care, A&E, the justice system, and mental health services,’ the report concludes. ‘We should focus on how these services can improve the recognition of risk and respond to men’s needs, and how services might work better together.’
It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.
Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.
Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.