September 20, 2012

MASSIVE SAUE Middle-aged poor men 10 times more likely to die by suicide by Sarah Stack Middle-aged men from disad- vantagcd backgrounds are 10 times more likely to die by suicide because they have lost their masculine pride and identi- ty, a study found.

The report, commissioned by helpline charity Samaritans, explored the reasons for suicide, beyond mental health problems, in men aged in their 30s to 50s.

Some 525 people died from suicide in Ireland last year, up from 486 in 2010, with men accounting for 84%.

The Men and Suicide report re- vealed men compare themselves against a "gold standard" which measures power, control and in- vincibility. If they feel they are not meeting this standard, set from a previous working class generation, they feel a sense of shame, which can lead to suicidalthoughts.

Brendan Kennelly, a lecturer atNUI Galway who took part inthe study, said: "The balance ofthe empirical evidence is that,controlling for other risk factorssuch as the presence of psychi-atric illnesses, being unem-ployed, having low income, orliving in a socio-economicallydeprived area increase the risk ofdying by suicide." The report said men in mid-life are now part of the "buffer"generation, not sure whether tobe like their older, more tradi-tional, strong, silent, austere fa-thers or like their younger, moreprogressive, individualistic sons.

"The changing nature of thelabour market over the last 60years has affected working classmen," it said. "With the declineof traditional male industries,they have lost not only their jobsbut also a source of masculinepride and identity." Lack of companionship is alsoreported to be a contributoryfactor in suicides in this group.

Suzanne Costello, director ofSamaritans in Ireland, said menare often criticised for being re-luctant to talk about their prob-lems and for not seeking help.

"With this in mind, we needto acknowledge that men are dif-ferent to women and design ser-vices to meet their needs, so theycan be more effective," she said.

"We also need to look at theeconomic and social inequalitiesthat contribute to people want-ing to take their own lives.

"Policy-makers and practition-ers need to take forward our rec-ommendations from the reportas a matter ot urgency."• For more information log onto www.saniaritans.ie or call1850609090.

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