The Isle of Man is eagerly awaiting the publication of the Suicide Prevention Strategy follwing a delay due to the Covid pandemic. The island has seen an increase in suicides in recent years particularly among young to middle aged men.
National Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health
The University of Manchester conducted the National Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) It collected in-depth information on all suicides in the U.K since 1996 and those recommendations have reduced mental health patient suicide rates, and improved patient safety, contributing to an overall reduction in suicide in the U.K. Professor Louis Appleby has championed suicide prevention since 2000 and leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England.
In May 2021 the ‘Suicide in Middle Aged Men’ report was published. It is based on deaths that occured in a 12-month period between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017 examining factors related to suicide in middle-aged men. It describes the antecedents of suicide and barriers to accessing services and includes recommendations for suicide prevention for men in mid-life.
The key risk factors are outlined below:-
30% unemployed, 21% were divorced or separated. Over a third reported an issue with alcohol misuse and 31% illicit drug use. Overall 57% were experiencing unemployment, financial or accommodation problems at the time of death.
More than half (52%) of men who died had a physical health condition which highlights the importance of physical ill-health as a factor in suicide risk.
44% of men in mid-life who died by suicide had previously self-harmed, 7% in the week prior to death. Therefore a report of self-harm is vital, as further self-harm may involve a method of greater lethality such as hanging. The report found 15% of men who died by suicide had used the internet in ways that were suicide-related, most often searching for information about suicide methods and 34% of men in our study appear to have been affected by bereavement, 6% by suicide bereavement.
Almost all (91%) middle-aged men had been in contact with at least one frontline service, most often primary care services (82%). Half had been in contact with mental health services, 30% with the justice system.
A comparatively low rate (5%) of engagement with talking therapies was evident among the men studied, despite the higher than expected rate of contact with services that were found. Showing that women are more likely than men to seek help through psychological therapy which is evidenced in most private and public therapy services statistics.
The report concludes that
‘It is therefore too simplistic to say men do not seek help. We should focus on how services can improve the recognition of risk and respond to men’s needs, and how services might work better together’. They recommend that psychological therapies suited to the needs of men should be offered.
Future Challenges for the Island Community
In anticipation of the Isle of Man Suicide Prevention Strategy publication I suspect there are similiarites in the key risk factors for all age groups across the island community.
Has the pandemic added a new level of mental health challenges?
Considering that 57% middle-aged men at the time of death were experiencing economic problems – unemployment, finances or accommodation could we hypothesise that the rates will increase post-pandemic without a range of public health, clinical and socio-economic interventions.
Cushla therapies currently show an 84% women to 16% men uptake but remain committed to getting ‘Men to Talk’. If you have any ideas or suggestions please do get in touch.