New Drive To Reduce Suicide Rate For Young Men

A new drive to reduce the suicide rates in young men was launched today by Health Minister Rosie Winterton. Speaking to mark Men’s Mental Health week, she published a report outlining the findings of three pilots which have been looking at ways to reduce suicide rates in young men.

Suicide is the most common cause of death in young men, and although the last five years have seen a sustained downward trend in the figures, last year over 1,300 young men took their own lives. The three government funded projects were set up in 2004 to help identify the barriers that may discourage young men from seeking help and look at ways of reaching out to this particularly vulnerable group. The results of the pilots, published today, will be used to spread best practice and learning across the NHS.

The pilots – based in Camden, Bedfordshire and Manchester – found that:

  • Community-based locations such as youth centres and youth oriented services offered a more successful means of engaging with young men than more formal settings such as GP surgeries
  • Front line staff, when given appropriate training, are better able to engage with young men
  • Alternative terms to ‘mental health’ – such as ‘dealing with stress’ or ‘wellbeing’ – need to be adopted to encourage young men to engage with future projects and to ensure that mental health issues are discussed in a non-stigmatising way
  • Proactive and community-based outreach programmes should be established as these approaches were perceived by young men as more acceptable, less threatening to their self-esteem and less risky, since staff were perceived as less likely to share information with other agencies, such as the police
  • Accessible information and advice needs to be available for family members and friends of young men, since they are likely to provide a more immediate and trusted source of support.

Speaking at the ‘Mind Your Head’ conference organised by the Men’s Health Forum, Rosie Winterton said:

“There is no health without mental health and we are committed to getting this message across to young men. Men are almost three times as likely to take their own life as women. We must do everything we can to prevent these deaths as each case is a needless tragedy for the friends and family of the victim, as well for society.

“Although we have recently seen a fall in the suicide rate amongst young men, we need to work hard to ensure that this downward trend continues. We already have a national suicide strategy that is starting to have an impact but we need to redouble our efforts in getting young men to look after their mental wellbeing and seek help when they need it.

“I am pleased to publish the Reaching Out report. The lessons learned by these pilots will help services improve the way they engage young men. I would also like to congratulate the Men’s Health Forum for the key work they are doing in promoting mental well-being.”