Call to address young male suicides

Published Wednesday, 23 January 2013
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A west Belfast man has told UTV how he looked for help to turn away from drugs and deal with his mental health problems, as a new report reveals young men are three times more likely to die of suicide than women.

Call to address young male suicides
Marty McKinley was treated for his depression and self harming. (© UTV)

Five years ago Marty McKinley was a drug addict dealing with depression and self harm, and he was on the brink of taking his own life.

"My whole life felt like it was falling apart. I was not getting to see my children, I was not talking to any of my family. I just felt isolated and to me there was no point in being here anymore.

"It's the worst possible place to be in the whole world. There's no place like it. It's dark, it's dingy and it is soul destroying," he said.

But as he reached his lowest point, he knew he needed to seek help and reached out for treatment. Now he Marty is trying to help other young people realise that suicide is not an answer.

"It's too easy to give up. When you've a lot of issues that are drowning you, it's too easy to say this is it, I'm just giving up, I can't take it anymore," he said.

It was not easy to get back on my feet, it was along hard road but if you want to do it you will get there and the help is there.

Marty McKinley

Suicide increased by 64% in Northern Ireland between 1999 and 2008, mostly as a result in the rise of young men taking their own lives.

A cross-border report launched on Wednesday highlights the rate of suicide among young people in Ireland is one of the highest in Europe.

The economic downturn and increasing levels of unemployment were major factors for a recent spike in suicides among this group, according to the report by the Men's Health Forum Ireland.

It found factors most consistently associated with the rise in young male suicide are income inequality, family relationship difficulties, peer relationship problems, school failure, low self esteem and violence.

Gender roles and identity were also implicated in increased suicide risk among young men.

Johnny Ashe is a youth worker with east Belfast's Young Men Talking project. He helps people to talk about the problems that they are having, and said suicide is a big topic in the east of the city.

"This is an issue that's being highlighted now in east Belfast but it has been there for a very, very long time," he said.

"It's important for us to always talk to young men, always engage, always make sure that they're ok and always make sure that they have an opportunity to talk about their feelings and get the weight off their shoulders."

The study said there is no "quick fix" solution but said dialogue and treating depression are crucial to suicide prevention.

There can be no quick-fix solutions to tackling the very grave statistics on suicide in young men on the island of Ireland

Dr Noel Richardson

"This report provides a blueprint and a roadmap for action," report author Dr Noel Richardson said.

The Health Department has invested more than £32m in suicide prevention since 2006, but the NI suicide rate has not fallen, with 300 people in the region taking their own lives every year.

"Men aged from 18 to 54 who live in deprived areas face the greatest level of risk. In fact, males are three times as likely as females to die by suicide," said Health Minister Edwin Poots.

"Combating suicide is an immensely challenging task and there is no single miraculous intervention."

The NI Public Health Agency said it take on board the recommendations in their work to prevent suicide.

Samaritans (NI) telephone: 08457 90 90 90
Samaritans (RoI) telephone: 1850 60 90 90
East Belfast Counselling telephone: 028 90 460489
Madeline Heaney, head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, added, "We know that suicide rates are higher among men, and the challenge for us all is to engage with men to help address this very serious issue."
© UTV News
Comments Comments
Marty mc kinley in belfast wrote (736 days ago):
Phil I can tell you now that paramilitaries had absolutely nothing to do with what I went through, in fact I picked up my addiction while living in Scotland working as a chef. The pressure of working in kitchens is immense and because your social live is taken away from you, you try to make something of it while working. I came back to Belfast to be round family to help me get of the drugs but I ended up getting worse. I then began to fall out with family and friends and then eventually ended up living in hostel here and there before finally deciding it was time to go. I was lucky in the fact that I got help the day I went to hospital because I can tell you now if the hospital had sent me away I'd be dead. Any one that is suffering suicidal thoughts or tendencies should not give up, they should seek out the help, everything gets better through talking and the amount of new people that come into your live will help you make that change. Your family will be the first to be there because they only step back to let you realise that what you are doing with addiction is destroying you. Bryan hang in there mate. Don't let anyone put you down. People like that are not worth taking your life for. Daniel thank you people are so quick to jump to conclusions about what leads to suicide, don't get me wrong paramilitaries do have a lot to do with some suicides but not every suicide.
Daniel in Belfast wrote (737 days ago):
Phil, how do you know that this man is from a 'deprived' area and under the influence of paramilitaries ? Dont jump to a small minded conclusion ! I was also in his position a few years back and i come from a wealthy family and grew up in a big house without any money worries. People like you are great at putting people down and making ill informed judgements. He got out and is making a difference so, back off and praise him.
Bryan McNulty in north belfast wrote (738 days ago):
i was bullied in fact still being bullied because im different i have aspergers syndrome and people in my neighbourhood age ranges from 9 to 54 years old constantly hurl abuse at me and throw stones at me spit on me etc etc i was at 1 point a few years ago on the brink of suicide after one such incident. what stopped me was the thaught of my mother and family members having to deal with my loss its getting better day by day but the other day me and my mum were coming in from shopping and a group of kids threw a firework at us and shouted abuse at me my heart goes out for my mother i just siad to my mother we should let the police deal with it we know who the people are who done it so lets hope my life gets better in future this story touched me there is a way out if you want it
male over 40 in belfast wrote (738 days ago):
ATOS dont help matters.they are close to pushing me over the edge
Phil in Belfast wrote (738 days ago):
The thing about 'deprived' areas in this country is that they are under the control of paramilitaries. A lot of issues in our society are directly linked to paramilitaries, sort them out and we would all be a lot better off.
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