Commissioned and funded by Health and Social Care Research and Development, now part of the Public Health Agency, the study was undertaken by the University of Ulster, Queen’s University and the University of Maine (USA). The information will increase the understanding of suicidal young men, and inform the delivery of accessible, acceptable and appropriate mental health services.
In response to the rise in suicide locally, the DHSSPS produced the first Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, ‘Protect Life – A Shared Vision (DHSSPS, 2006). The strategy identified the need for research, to inform policy development and service provision. This study is the first in a series to address this need.
During this research 36 men aged 16-34, who had undertaken a serious suicide attempt on at least one occasion, were interviewed and provided valuable information on service provision. This included the importance of the role of mental health professionals, the community and other young men who had direct experience of suicide; a realistic view of being a successful man in 21st century Northern Ireland and the fact that ‘recovery’ was a long-term, ongoing process, which includes meeting the challenges of life and should engage a wide range of groups and individuals.
Commenting on the research, Dr Carolyn Harper, Executive Medical Director/Director of Public Health, PHA said, “This work has provided vital information, from those who really know the impact of suicide and what is needed to help prevent it. The findings will inform future mental health service development, targeting areas that have been identified as helpful, appropriate and accessible, by those who know best. We are greatly indebted to those who participated in this research and wish them well in their continued recovery, health and well being”.
“If anyone needs confidential support services and advice they should call Lifeline: 0808 808 8000. This is a free helpline service available 24/7. You can also access the website www.lifelinehelpline.info. “ She added.
The research team explained the importance of this work saying: “Our international research team conducted one of the few studies that has talked to young men about the circumstances in which they attempted to take their own lives and, importantly, about what has helped them to want to go on living since then. Their insights lie at the core of the recommendations we have developed concerning how services can both engage young men and provide appropriate care and support to them. The valuable findings from this work add to our knowledge about suicide and its prevention particularly as they suggest that young men are likely to derive significant benefit from services which they perceive to be of relevance to moving forward with their lives over the long term. These findings are not only relevant to Northern Ireland but can also inform work in the US and beyond, one of the many benefits from cooperating with colleagues from across the globe.”
Welcoming the research, the Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey said:
“This is a unique and invaluable study, which will help us in our fight against suicide. It is important to collect and analyse data and use it to target mental health and suicide prevention services at those who need help. This research highlights the importance of building stronger emotional resilience and coping skills amongst young men, and of providing prevention services that they are more willing to access. It also underscores the fundamental importance of positive, close relationships with family and friends in protecting against suicide. Tackling suicide in our society remains a priority for my Department and I remain fully committed to providing as much support as possible to address the root causes of suicide.”
Notes to the editor
1. The Lifeline number is 0808 808 8000 and lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls are free from all landlines and mobile phones. The website address is www.lifelinehelpline.info.
2. A summary of the research findings is attached.
3. The Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, ‘Protect Life – A Shared Vision (DHSSPS, 2006), identified young men as a key target group. It can be found at: www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/phnisuicidepreventionstrategy_action_plan-3.pdf
4. Please abide by Samaritans media guidelines on suicide reporting: www.samaritans.org/pdf/IrishMediaGuidelines2009.pdf
Contact the PHA Press Office, Ormeau Avenue, on 028 9031 1611