Higher risk of suicide among middle-aged Irish men identified in report

Jason McAteer, retired professional footballer and John Meehan, HSE Assistant National Director for the National Office for Suicide Prevention (left) at the launch of the report 'Middle Age Man and suicide in Ireland'. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A new report examining why middle-aged Irish men have the highest rate of suicide of all age groups in Ireland has been launched by the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland and the HSE.

Former Republic of Ireland international Jason McAteer, who has spoken publicly of his own experience of depression and suicidal thoughts after retiring from football, launched the 'Middle Age Man and Suicide in Ireland' report in Dublin today.

It sets out a series of recommendations for what can be done to reduce suicidal behaviour in middle-aged men.

Men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women and the highest suicide rate is among those aged 45-54.

"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 an increased risk of suicidal behaviour," said the HSE's John Meehan.

The aim of the report was to explore the factors underpinning the higher suicide rates among middle-aged men at risk of marginalisation.

It focuses specifically on middle-aged men who are gay, transgender, members of the travelling community, victims of domestic abuse, members of ethnic minority groups, farmers, unemployed, rurally isolated or separated/divorced fathers.

The stigma attached to mental health and to men seeking support was also highlighted as a significant issue.

"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," said Dr Noel Richardson, co-author of the report.

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 well-being 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.

Read the report in full here:

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