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Nov 19 2015

International Men’s Day – action on male suicide

Today, 19 November 2015, it is International Men’s Day and at 1.30pm an historic parliamentary debate will be taking place at Westminster to consider issues that have an impact on the well being of men: educational attainment, job prospects, involvement with the criminal justice system, physical and mental health health.

It’s vital that as part of this debate that MPs and our wider society wake up to the fact that we must do more to support the emotional well-being of men given the huge bearing it has on the ability to learn, work and live well. The evidence shows that men struggle more than women to talk about how they are feeling, and that when things get really bad, are much less able to get help (in a poll by Cosmopolitan magazine only 27% of males surveyed said it was acceptable for them to get emotional at any time, whilst 71% said it was unacceptable to cry in public). All of which contributes to the fact that suicide is is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 and more than 75% of all suicides are by men.

And as a major new YouGov poll of over 2000 men has found, a much larger number of men have considered suicide (42%) and are suffering in silence never talking to anyone about their problems (41%). The survey also found almost half of men didn’t seek help as they “didn’t want people to worry about me” and 32% felt ashamed.

Yet help is available. And death by suicide is preventable. So society must do more to challenge the gender stereotypes that prevent men getting help, and more to prevent suicides taking place.

We have joined with over 30 organisations, being led by CALM, to call for four key changes:
1. Count – We need timely and accurate information to enable better responses to be planned. At the moment it can take up to two years to obtain an estimate of suicide numbers. We have a significant concern these are under-reported.

2. Contain – According to the World Health Organisation and over 50 research papers, there is a strong element of contagion with regard to suicide. We should treat it so and respond and support those impacted by suicide to prevent further loss of life, consequent illness, family breakup and job loss.

3. Enforce – All local authorities need to develop and implement a suicide prevention plan. Those that do not should be named and shamed.

4. Accountability – If national and local suicide prevention plans are to be effective there must be accountability.

We would urge everyone to write to their Public Health Department and MP to ensure to encourage their local authority and other public sector organisations to take up this work and put comprehensive plans in place to deliver life-saving prevention work.