By John Tingle
The issue of male suicide and prevention seems to have been an obscured or perhaps even a forgotten issue in reports discussing the care of vulnerable people. The UK media have recently focussed on this issue with the Project Eighty-Four campaign. This campaign aims to raise awareness of male suicide with sculptures being placed on the top of a London tower block to mark this. The sculptures are on the top of ITV’s (Independent Television ) Buildings on London’s Southbank Promenade from 26th March 2018.The sculptures are designed to get people talking about the issue. Friends and families of the deceased men helped create them: “Each one, a poignant reminder of a real life lost and a call to society to come together and ultimately take a stand against male suicide.”
BBC News has also covered the event. Project Eighty Four states that the statistics on male suicide are shocking. Every two hours a man in the UK takes his own life. Project Eighty Four is an initiative of the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).CALM is dedicated to preventing male suicide and they say that male suicide and mental health is a big issue that cannot be ignored for any longer.
Interestingly they report in latest annual report and accounts a modest but noticeable increase in the number of female callers for help and advice. CALM’s focus is on men because of the high rate of male suicides.Helpline workers helped to directly prevent 409 suicides in 2016-17, up 19% on the previous year.
Key trends on suicide are given in the Samaritans suicide statistics report of 2017 which includes data for 2013-2015. In 2015 there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 40–44. Male suicide rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK. Male suicides have decreased in the UK (by 1.2%), England (by 3.8%).
The Samaritans report contains a notable figure on female suicide trends which are on the rise. In England and the UK, female suicide rates are at their highest in a decade. Rates have increased in the UK (by 3.8%), England (by 2%).This rise in female suicide rates could be one reason why CALM is reporting receiving more calls from females.
The recent rise in female suicide could be an indication of the picture of suicide risk changing, Male rates are decreasing whilst female rates are increasing. The report warns of caution in interpreting the increase in female suicide trend and that it needs careful monitoring. It is a concerning but it is too early to say whether it is an established long-term trend.
What is clear is that the issue of suicide needs a much higher public profile than it currently has for both genders. Women also must not be the forgotten gender here. We need to keep trends under review.