The Men’s Health Forum in Ireland and the HSE will launch a new report that examines why middle aged Irish men have the highest rate of suicide of all age groups in Ireland. Former Republic of Ireland international Jason McAteer will launch the Middle-Aged Men and Suicide in Ireland Report on Thursday 15 March 2018 at Dr Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin as the focal point of an international Men’s Health Symposium. In the past, Mr McAteer has spoken publicly of his own experience of depression and suicidal thoughts after retiring from football.
The report was funded by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) and produced by the National Centre for Men’s Health (NCMH) at the Institute of Technology Carlow. It sets out a series of recommendations for what can be done to reduce suicidal behavior in middle-aged men.
Pictured at the launch were, from left to right, Shane O'Donnell (co-author), Dr Noel Richardson (co-author), Dr Cate Hartigan (HSE Assistant National Director, Strategic Planning & Transformation), Jason McAteer and John Meehan (HSE Assistant National Director with Responsibility for NOSP and Mental Health Strategy)
“Men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women and the highest suicide rate is among those aged 45-54,” explained the HSE’s Assistant National Director with Responsibility for the National Office for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Strategy, Mr John Meehan. He continued: “We funded this report as part of our national suicide prevention strategy, Connecting for Life, which identifies middle-aged men as a priority group, for whom there is evidence of vulnerability to and increased risk of suicidal behaviour”.
Dr Cate Hartigan, Assistant National Director, Strategic Planning & Transformation stated: “We are happy to be able to build on the good work done in the area of men's health and in 2018 are expanding our reach with programmes such as 'Men on the Move' and the 'National Men's Health Engage Training'. These programmes have proven that taking a best practice approach to working with men pay dividends. We are also working to expand the reach and engagement of malehealth.ie by supporting the Irish Men's Sheds Association in this work. Partners are key to the scope and reach of this work throughout the country and when men's health is supported effectively through local Connecting for Life and Healthy Ireland plans, men's health can be addressed and improved."
The aim of the report was to explore the factors underpinning the higher suicide rates among middle-aged men at risk of marginalisation. That is to say, men aged 40-59 years old who have at least one other identity characteristic which puts them at greater risk of suicide. The report therefore focuses specifically on middle-aged men who are;
- Members of the travelling community
- Victims of domestic abuse
- Members of ethnic minority groups
- Rurally isolated
- Separated/divorced fathers
Particular risk factors identified by the report that are associated with increased psychological distress among more marginalised groups of middle-aged men include: mid-life transitions; decreasing life and career opportunities; unfulfilled aspirations and expectations; deteriorating physical health; increasing pressures associated with the provider role at middle-age; societal challenges to middle-aged masculinity; and rejection and isolation. The stigma attached to mental health and to men seeking support was also highlighted as a significant issue.
Dr Noel Richardson, Institute of Technology Carlow and co-author of the report stated: “The hope or expectation for finding a magic formula that will be the panacea for addressing the higher suicide rates among middle-aged men is not realistic – nor could it be in the context of the complexity and interplay of causes and risk factors. The report’s recommendations provide a roadmap to address the issues and challenges that have been raised; it behoves all stakeholders to mobilise the will and commitment to translate these into tangible outcomes.’
The report proposes more effective and gender specific programmes, services, and resources that support the mental health and wellbeing of middle-aged men. It sets out recommendations that cover six key areas: advocacy, connection, communication, education and training, stigma reduction and awareness, and support. Together these recommendations aim to reduce the risk of suicide faced by particular groups of middle-aged men. The HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention will now work with and support the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland in moving to the next phase, of implementing a number of the strategic recommendations.