Ireland’s recession and high unemployment rates are having a dramatic effect on male suicide rates.
In the year to June 2009 there were 379 male suicides in Ireland, this figure rose to 427 in the year to June 2010.
In Northern Ireland, there were 313 deaths by suicide last year, 240 of which were male. This represents the highest suicide figure ever recorded for these six counties of Ireland.
The figures were published on Monday by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) in a report, entitled “Facing the Challenge – The Impact of the Recession and Unemployment on Men’s Health in Ireland," for the launch of Men’s Health Week.
The report described the raise in suicides as a “a particular cause for concern” and noted that both the recession and unemployment rates were having “extremely adverse effects” on men’s mental health.
Front-line organizations who were dealing with unemployed males in Ireland found a link between the downturn and adverse health effects.
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The research, which was carried out by Nexus Research Co-operative, on behalf of the IPH found that the main challenges were high levels of stress or anxiety, dependency on or over-use of alcohol/other drugs and deterioration in physical health. Other challenges included a conflict in personal relationships, isolation and a reluctance to seek help.
“Men’s health issues in times of economic recession are made more difficult by their tendency to take fewer health preventative measures, and be less likely to seek support,” IPH associate director Owen Metcalfe told the Irish Times.
“The combination of perceived inadequate services and the reluctance of many men to communicate their problems meant that “a large proportion of more critical effects are undoubtedly hidden," he said.
“Our report suggests that success in addressing the issue will be determined to a large extent by effective partnership arrangements between community-based groups and mainstream service providers.”