Since March 2011, the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI - www.mhfi.org) has been working on an all-Ireland ‘Young Men and Suicide Project’ (YMSP). This cross-Border initiative was jointly funded by the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland and the National Office for Suicide Prevention in the Republic of Ireland.
On Wednesday 23rd January 2013, the report on this project will be launched at noon at two separate short events which are being held in Belfast and Dublin. In Belfast, the report will be officially launched by Minister for Health, Edwin Poots MLA, while Minister of State Kathleen Lynch TD will launch it in Dublin.
Launching the report, Edwin Poots MLA will tell the audience that: “Despite my Department‟s investment of over £32 million in suicide prevention since 2006, the suicide rate has not fallen. Around 300 people a year in Northern Ireland continue to die by suicide every year. Men aged from 18 to 54 who live in deprived areas face the greatest level of risk. In fact, males are three times as likely as females to die by suicide.
“Combating suicide is an immensely challenging task and there is no single miraculous intervention. We need to trial a range of interventions and persist with those that prove to be effective. That is one of the reasons why the Young Men and Suicide Project report is so valuable. It points us towards measures that have been tried and tested, and shown to be useful.”
Suicide is a major cause of death among young males on the island of Ireland. The recent spike in suicide rates among young males in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland coincides with the economic downturn and increasing levels of unemployment.
The aim of YMSP was to identify a range of possible means to promote positive mental health among young men, and to assess the effectiveness of these approaches. In essence, it sought to examine ‘what works with young men and what is needed.’
The lead author of the YMSP report, Dr Noel Richardson, states: “There can be no quick-fix solutions to tackling the very grave statistics on suicide in young men on the island of Ireland; but neither is there any place for inertia or ambivalence. There is both a public health and a moral requirement to act.
“There needs to be a concerted effort to engage more effectively, and in a more sustained way, with young men, and to plan services and programmes with young men in mind. This report provides a blueprint and a roadmap for action.”
The Northern Ireland launch will be held in YouthAction NI, 14 College Square North, Belfast BT1 6AS. It will include an address from Edwin Poots MLA, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
The Republic of Ireland launch will be held in the Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. It will include an address from Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State, Department of Health and Department of Justice, Equality and Defence with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health.
According to the report, the factors most consistently associated with the rise in young male suicide are income inequality, family relationship difficulties, peer relationship problems, school failure, low self esteem and violence. Gender roles and identity have also been implicated in increased suicide risk amongst young men.