The official findings into research on suicidal men, aged 16-34, in Northern Ireland, were launched today (Thursday 1 December). The report, Providing meaningful care: using the experiences of young suicidal men to inform mental health care services, funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development division, Public Health Agency (PHA), recommends a holistic approach to suicide prevention, across many sectors and touching on all aspects of individual, social and community life.
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) produced the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, ‘Protect Life – A Shared Vision’ in 2006. It is currently being refreshed; however it identifies the need for research to inform policy development and service provision. ‘Providing Meaningful Care’ is the second piece of published research adding to the evidence base of how best to support positive mental health and emotional wellbeing, and to deliver the protect life strategy.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Eddie Rooney, PHA Chief Executive, said: “Everyone in Northern Ireland is aware of the devastation to individuals, families and communities that suicide brings. Promoting mental health and suicide prevention is a priority, not only for the Public Health Agency and our partner organisations, but also for every local community across Northern Ireland.
“The importance of using research findings to tailor support services to the need of vulnerable people cannot be overemphasised. This report tells us that suicide prevention is not just about clinical intervention in recognised mental health facilities, but that young men need a more holistic approach that will enable them to develop coping strategies and life-skills, available in both formal and accessible community settings
“This report will help us to provide more targeted support and training e.g. in schools, clubs, at key access points in the community as well as in statutory services, to foster good mental health and emotional wellbeing, to raise awareness of early warning signs that there may be a mental health problem and to promote sources of help, generally and at times of crisis, within our communities.”
Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Providing meaningful care has presented crucial information from those who really know the impact of suicide and what is needed to help prevent it. The study has helped to expand the local knowledge base on suicide in Northern Ireland. Together with other recently published research, it has helped to build a bank of invaluable local evidence on the causes of suicide, risk factors, and potential new interventions.
“Our investment in research is starting to pay dividends by informing the design and delivery of services that will eventually lower the burden of suicide in our society.”
Providing meaningful care: using the experiences of young suicidal men to inform mental health care services, was commissioned and funded by Health and Social Care Research and Development division, PHA. Other research, under the Protect Life strategy includes The Confidential Inquiry into suicide and homicide by people with mental illness, launched in June of this year, and two ongoing studies which are analysing suicidal behavior: the potential impact of neighbourhood factors; the use of help seeking pathways; GP recognition of suicidal people; and bereavement coping strategies. All of this work will increase the understanding of suicide prevention and contribute to ensuring that potentially life saving, accessible support and services are immediately available to those who need them.
If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline: 0808 808 8000. It is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and immediately help on the phone and follow-up with other support if necessary. This confidential helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the website www.lifelinehelpline.info
For more information on how to protect your own mental health and to get information and support, visit the PHA mental health promotion website, www.mindingyourhead.info
Contact the PHA Press Office, Ormeau Avenue, on 028 9031 1611
Notes to the editor
- A copy of Providing meaningful care: using the experiences of young suicidal men to inform mental health care services (short report) can be found in the publications section of the PHA website, www.publichealth.hscni.net
- The preliminary findings for this work were published in November 2010. It has since undergone peer review, resulting amendment and consultation before being completed and launched today.
- 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
- The Lifeline number is 0808 808 8000 and lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The website address is www.lifelinehelpline.info.
- When reporting on suspected suicide, please abide by The Samaritans/Irish Association of Suicidology Media Guidelines for the Portrayal of Suicide, available at: www.samaritans.org/pdf/IrishMediaGuidelines2009.pdf