“BY THIS DAY NEXT WEEK, 10 people in Ireland will have died by suicide, and 8 of them will be men,” Joan Freeman of Pieta House tells An Phoblacht. It is this shocking statistic that brought the suicide and self-harm crisis centre to launch the ‘Mind Our Men’ campaign.
Pieta House has called on people to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of suicide. The Mind Our Men campaign aims to give people the skills and training needed to reach out to men in their lives during times of crisis.
Joan says that while there has been a huge increase in suicide awareness in recent years, it is still not enough.
“There are hundreds of organisations doing great work but it’s family and friends who are on the frontline and who need to educate themselves on the warning signs to look out for,” she says.
“Research shows that more suicides are prevented by family and friends than by any organisation or institution. This is why we’re targeting the women and men of Ireland and empowering them to tackle the problem of suicide – spot the signs and save a life.”
Men are far less likely to get help for themselves and often believe that they can ‘fix’ the situation or that their feelings will pass. Joan says that in the vast majority of cases men are referred to the organisation by their partner or mother. Pieta House says its research shows that the two traumatic life events that would most likely lead men to taking their lives are: the loss of a major relationship, through break-up or bereavement; or problems with employment, either redundancy, unemployment, retirement or job uncertainty. The fact that most suicides are prevented by family, friends and colleagues explains why knowing how to react is so important. If a person has noticed multiple signs that a person is suicidal they should:
ASK: Tell him that you have noticed he is feeling down. Ask him the question: “Are you suicidal?”
PERSUADE: Persuade him to allow you to get help. Do not leave it up to him.
REFER: Refer him to an organisation like Pieta House or his GP if no service is available.
People are also reminded that if somebody expresses suicidal thoughts they should be taken seriously and it should never be assumed that a person is attention seeking.
As part of the campaign, ‘Mind Your Buddy’ is being rolled out in organisations and workplaces across the country. This suicide prevention programme aims to train specific people within organisations and workplaces in the areas of support and referral. At the moment it is being implemented in male-dominated organisations such as the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána, the Scouts and the GAA.
“It’s frightening to think that there are women and men across Ireland today whose loved ones may be contemplating suicide without their knowledge,” says Joan. “It could be your father, your son, your partner, your brother, your friend; this is why it’s so vital that we all take a proactive approach in learning the signs to look out for.”
Watch out for
Signs that somebody may be in distress:
- Isolating himself
- Turning off his mobile phone and/or quitting social media
- Decreased performance at work or school
- Angry or tearful emotional outbursts
- Increase in alcohol or drug use
- Behavioural changes such as loss of appetite or inability to sleep
- Becoming lethargic and emotionally withdrawn
- Becoming coninuously distracted or accident prone
- Use of language such as “I have no future” or “What’s the point of anything?”
If someone you know is displaying one or two of these signs – don’t worry. Chances are they’re fine. If they’re displaying multiple signs, then you might need to take action.
MIND OUR MEN: To pledge your support for the campaign and join the growing community of people across Ireland minding their men, log on to www.mindourmen.ie
Pieta House: Provides a professional, face-to-face, free-of-charge therapeutic service for people in the acute stages of distress, for more information on Pieta House, visit www.pieta.ie or call 01 601 0000.
Statistics8 out of 10 men aged 18-34 know someone who has died by suicide
Two thirds of men who have died by suicide expressed suicidal thoughts to family or friends
Every year, in every country in the world except China, more men die by suicide than women
Youth suicide rates in Ireland are the fifth highest in the EU
Every week, 10 people die by suicide in Ireland 8 of them are men
This article first appeared in the June 2013 edition of An Phoblacht newspaper