THE focus on suicide prevention and reducing stigma around mental health has led to the rate of male suicide falling to its lowest since records began.
There were 4,382 suicides by men last year, a rate of 15.5 deaths per 100,000, says a new Office for National Statistics (ONS) report.
This was down from 16 per 100,000 last year and the lowest since the ONS began recording the rate in 1981.
Among women the rate was 4.9 per 100,000, broadly consistent with the pattern over the past decade. However, men are still three times more likely to die by suicide than women. Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable.
And when someone takes their own life the result is absolute devastation for those left behind. It’s encouraging to see the reduction in male suicide. We believe the focus of suicide prevention in recent years to tackle the higher rates in men has contributed to ● Men are still three times more likely than women to take their own lives this. Reducing stigma around men’s mental health and encouraging men to open up and ask for help when they are struggling has been beneficial.
But one death by suicide is still one too many. Both Princes William and Harry have launched prominent mental health campaigns in recent years as well as celebrities including the former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff and Tony Blair’s former director of communications Alastair Campbell — both of whom have experienced depression — to try to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and urge people to seek help. Prince Harry gave an interview where he described finally seeking counselling to deal with the ‘chaos’ he had felt for 20 years after the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
There has long been a much higher rate of suicide among men than women, accounting for about three quarters of such deaths.
The highest prevalence of suicide is among men aged 45 to 49.
It’s also high among men aged 80 and older as their health declines.
Suicide is complex and it’s a problem of inequality.
It affects the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society, both male and female, disproportionately.
So, this is an urgent public health issue, not simply a health or mental health one.
And, despite the recent decrease, we must work harder at understanding who is taking their own lives, and why, and what support and interventions work best to save lives.
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