Suicide is a health emergency that must be tackled as a matter of urgency.

Turning the tide

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.
Experts concede that young men do not access mental health or therapeutic services in the conventional ways that many young women find helpful. There is, evidently, also a difficulty for young men articulating their feelings – particularly to their peers.
There is a need for creative thinking: an approach that understands that the difference between men and women are real and that what works for one gender will not necessarily work for the other gender.
In trying to mould men to fit the current services rather than thinking creatively, there is a risk of further demonising young men as if they are to blame for not accessing the current services, thus compounding the sense of alienation.
Services and outreach will need to be targeted where young men find themselves: be it in gyms, sports clubs other avenues there is a need for young men to identify a safe space where they can express their fears and anxieties.
There also needs to be a frank national conversation about suicide and the devastating effects on families and communities. There is a real danger that Ireland has moved from a society where suicide was absolute taboo, to a society where the decision to take one’s own life is a viable choice or something that could represent a solution to a problem.
Suicide is never a solution to a problem. Suicide can never be seen as viable choice.
Mental health problems, depression and extreme anxiety are real: as real as any physical pathology which society readily accepts as a threat and offers treatment for. People with suicidal thoughts deserve help and support; they deserve resources to be priorities in the same way as the many other health emergencies we treat as the threat to life that they are.

Lifeline is the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. No matter what your age or where you live in Northern Ireland, if you are or someone you know is in distress or despair, Lifeline is here to help.

People living in Northern Ireland can call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. Deaf and hard of hearing Textphone users can call Lifeline on 18001 0808 808 8000. Calls to Lifeline are FREE to people living in Northern Ireland who are calling from UK landlines and mobiles.

Lifeline counsellors are available 24 hours a day seven days a week to listen and help, IN CONFIDENCE