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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Cumbrian health chiefs back campaign to lower suicide rate among men

Health experts in Cumbria are backing a campaign to reduce the number of suicides among men.

Workman suicide poster photo
Three quarters of suicides in Cumbria are among men

The county has a higher than average suicide rate, and about three quarters of these deaths are among men.

Jane Mathieson, a consultant in public health at NHS Cumbria, said there is also some evidence to suggest that numbers are increasing due to the recession.

That is why she is backing the Samaritans’ new We’re In Your Corner campaign, which aims to raise awareness of suicide in men and encourage more of them to seek help.

The initiative is being launched with Network Rail, which wants to reduce deaths on the railways.

“This research and campaign from the Samaritans confirms what we already know from a Cumbrian perspective – that more than three quarters of suicides are in men,” said Dr Mathieson.

“Over the last 30 years or so there has been a worrying rise in suicides in younger men, but that seems to have levelled off a bit. Now we have noticed an increase in the middle-age group.

“This particular campaign aims to raise awareness and get across the message to men that there is help out there.”

Iain Johnson, director of the Samaritans’ west Cumbrian branch, said although it is a national campaign they will be promoting it particularly countywide.

“We are aiming it at blue collar males in their 30s and 40s. The men featured in the posters include a boxing coach, a soldier and construction worker. It’s those kind of men that are appearing to be more at risk than any other group right now,” he said.

Asked whether the economic downturn is to blame for the rise in suicides among this group, he said: “It’s very difficult to say why. The reasons someone will take their own life are so complex. All we know is that the number of calls Samaritan’s are getting are rising for this demographic.

“There is an urban myth, or probably an urban fact, that males of that kind of age do find it very difficult to talk about stuff that’s obviously getting to them and the number of outlets for them to be able to talk are fairly few. It’s not the kind of thing you can usually talk about to your family or mates down the pub.

“The campaign is really about raising awareness and taking the stigma away.”

Anyone wanting to talk about a problem can speak to a local Samaritans representative by calling 08457 909090 or emailing jo@samaritans.org.

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