News this week of the latest ONS statistics on male suicide was encouraging. The report showed a further decrease in the rate of male suicide to 15.5 deaths per 100,000 - the lowest since records began in 1981.
However, the facts are still shocking. Men are still three times more likely to take their own lives in the UK - amounting to 4,382 deaths a year - and thousands of people are still reaching a point where they feel dying is their only option. Combine that insight with the tragic stories we hear from our supporters every day and it remains acutely apparent that we as a society have a lot of work to do.
One of those stories came to us from Matthew Smith, who joined forces with CALM to launch our petition calling for ministerial responsibility for suicide prevention and bereavement support. Matthew’s brother was 19 when he made the decision to take his own life.
“He was a popular lad who had a loving family and a large group of friends around him – all of whom face the pain and unanswered questions every day,” he told me.
I strongly believe we can end the on-going culture of silence that continues to surround men who may struggle to deal with life-changing circumstances or mental health issues, by integrating suicide prevention into the fabric of society.
The government must urgently take more action on tackling the epidemic of suicide among men in the UK. Eighty-four men in the UK take their own lives every week, but no minister in the government is officially responsible for suicide prevention and bereavement support. We can change that.
CALM will continue its movement against suicide and we urge others to join us and sign our petition. Suicide is an issue that affects everyone and together we can build on the positive change we’re seeing to make a tangible, societal difference that will save and change lives.
CALM’s helpline 0800 58 58 58 and web-chat are for men in the UK who need to talk or find information and support. The services are open 5pm–midnight daily and are free, anonymous and confidential. For access or to find more information visit thecalmzone.net