Following the release of the NCISH Annual Report on suicide within the mental health services today, Jane Powell, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Living Miserably, CALM, the charity dedicated to preventing male suicide said:
“We welcome the NCISH report into the suicides of those within mental health services, it is a careful examination of suicides within mental health services. It shows, however, that there is a long way to go if we are to reach the ‘zero suicide’ target for those engaged with mental health services announced by the Government earlier this year.
“Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged 20-45 in the UK, and accounts for 78% of all suicides in the UK. This report addresses less than 1/4 of male suicides in this country by concentrating on a cohort of middle-aged men within mental health services. Great that it does so, but surprisingly there’s no gendered perspective found within the solutions offered here. This report is a good start, but by starting out with such a narrow focus it ignores the wider picture. Why aren’t men, for the most part, even considering asking for help?
“The finding that 1,239 men took their lives whilst in contact with mental health services is in itself tragic, but this number indicates that a further 3,619 men in 2013 weren’t in mental health services, yet took their lives.
“Year after year we’ve seen reports on suicide which salami-slice men into different age groups and categories i.e. young men, men in prison, men in the services, older men. We know there’s a cohort of middle aged men who are more likely to kill themselves at present, but this shouldn’t overshadow the fact that men of any age are between 3 and 5 times more likely to take their lives than women*. The report highlights that employment, physical health, alcohol and debt may contribute to this picture, and makes welcome suggestions about consulting families and ending out-of-area admissions. Whilst we welcome these broad-spectrum recommendations, there appears to be no gendered response recommended to a very gendered picture.
How should mental health services look after the needs of men? How could they be different so that any suicidal man, of any age feels able to ask for help? And equally as important, why are men of all ages more likely to take their lives than women?”