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William urges men to 'talk about issues' to combat suicide rates

The Duke of Cambridge has said he wants men to stop "feeling so strong" and talk about their issues, in a bid to tackle "staggering" male suicide rates.

William was speaking at a meeting in London with representatives from National Rail, the RNLI, British Transport Police, the Chief Fire Officers Association, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and the Samaritans.

They were brought together by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) for their first meeting at Unilever House.

The coalition of emergency and transport services aims to pull together the expertise of those who deal, on a daily basis, with male suicide.

William said he became involved because of his interest in the subject as supporter of mental health campaigns, and because of his experiences as an air ambulance pilot.

He said it was "fantastic" they were trying to "bring the issue to the surface" and to "do something" about male suicide rates.

"I want to try and help you guys elevate the issue that you deal with to another level if we can," he said.

"And get, particularly on the male side, more men talking about it."

With suicide as the biggest killer of males under the age of 45, William said he was "staggered" by the statistics.

"In some of my charity work I have come across issues like this before, and coupled with my air ambulance work where my first job was a male suicide, I realised starkly how big a problem we have in this country," he said.

"It was really close to me on that first day and one of the guys told me on average there are five attempted suicides a day."

William said that at that point he had not really heard about the issue, even though he is "fairly tuned in to" his charity work.

"We need to do something about it," he told the meeting.

"Get more men talking about their issues before it is too late and to stop feeling so strong and unable to seek help.

"Because it can destroy families, it can destroy lives."

The coalition aims to develop a resource aimed at equipping all men with an understanding of how to identify and support other men who are down, depressed or suicidal.

Males currently account for 76% of all suicides.

Each year more than 2,500 rail workers deal with the aftermath of suicides, while a further 1,100 actively prevent them.

The fire and rescue services attend 1,500 suicide incidents a year, with a far greater figure for ambulance service members who attend the majority of suspected suicide incidents.

CALM, the Samaritans and frontline services from land, sea and air want to develop a resource which helps men identify and help others and themselves.

After the inaugural meeting, William then visited and toured the RNLI Tower Lifeboat Station on London's Victoria Embankment.

In 2014 the RNLI launched more than 1,000 times to suspected self-harm incidents, accounting for 13% of all its activity.

Nearly half of these incidents occurred on the River Thames - with the Tower Lifeboat Station currently the busiest in the UK.

William met representatives from the RNLI, the Metropolitan Police Marine Unit, the London Fire Brigade, British Transport Police and the Coastguard to discuss how they already do and can work together, their strategic responses and associated figures.

After having a cup of tea and admiring the array of cakes and biscuits, the Duke then heard first-hand about the experiences of some service responders.

Stuart Simpson, of the Met Police Marine Unit, told William that in the last 12 hours there had been three suicide attempts along the Thames - all of which involved men.

Full-time RNLI helmsman Craig Burn said: "We have been in situations where you see some faces more than once.

"And that is really troubling."

Asking about incident figures, the Duke was told that last year 221 people went into the water and "53 did not come out".

William asked: "Do you think some young guys don't want talk about this or issues before it is too late?"

"It is a macho world," said Mr Burn. "Social media is probably one thing - people talk about people, everyone has got to be in this macho world.

"It is better to open up and show your feelings but men struggle with that."

Afterwards, William looked round one of the RNLI rescue launches the station uses, called the Hurley Burley.

Helmsman Jai Gudgion said the Duke was "impressed by the speed" of the boat, which can reach up to 42 knots, and that he "might have liked a little spin" in it.


From Belfast Telegraph