Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Loss of identity linked to suicide

The Samaritans found that middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds are 10 times more likely to die by suicide

Middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds are 10 times more likely to die by suicide because they have lost their masculine pride and identity, a study found.

The report, commissioned by helpline charity Samaritans, explored the reasons for suicide beyond mental health problems in men aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Some 525 people died from suicide in Ireland last year, up from 486 in 2010, with men accounting for 84%.

The Men and Suicide report revealed men compare themselves against a "gold standard" which measures power, control and invincibility.

And if they feel they are not meeting this standard, which is set from a previous working class generation, they feel a sense of shame, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Brendan Kennelly, a lecturer from NUI Galway who took part in the study, said the report shows that people on low income and who are unemployed are at a higher than average risk of suicide.

"While exceptions can be found in some studies, the balance of the empirical evidence is that, controlling for other risk factors such as the presence of psychiatric illnesses, being unemployed, having low income, or living in a socio-economically deprived area increase the risk of dying by suicide," he said.

More than 308,000 people are out of work in Ireland, with 60% jobless for more than a year. The unemployment rate for men is 17.8%.

Samaritans found that, on average, about 3,000 middle-aged men across the UK and Ireland take their own lives each year and that men from deprived areas were ten times more likely to due by suicide than men from high socio-economic backgrounds living in the most affluent areas.

Anyone in crisis should visit www.samaritans.ie or call 1850 60 90 90.

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