#SOSManDown: New campaign launched to tackle male health crisis

The #SOSManDown campaign is launched at the GPO this monring

The campaign group for fathers’ rights in Ireland has launched a new offensive, calling for an urgent package of measures to reduce casualties from the higher rates of suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse suffered by men across each nation.

In Ireland, four in five suicides are men, with those aged 45 – 54 most at risk.

The campaign, #SOSManDown, was launched by Fathers4Justice in Dublin, London and Edinburgh to coincide with International Men’s Day on Sunday November 19.

At prominent sites in all three cities, members of the public were greeted with the sight of the naked body of a man on a mat with the hashtag #SOSManDown and were given real-life information about who that person represented and the circumstances which led to their death.

Fathers4Justice is calling for the following steps to be taken urgently in Ireland and the UK:

· A Minister for Men and Boys: A Minister focused on coordinating a strategy to deal with the men’s health crisis.

· National Safety Net: A fully funded safety net for men and boys including a national Life Line and health strategy targeting the causes of male suicide, depression and other health issues, as well as supporting men in difficulty.

· Parental Equality: Automatic parental responsibility for all fathers and a legal presumption of shared parenting and child support.

· A National Conversation: Around men’s health and fatherlessness and bring men and women together in unity to make a difference to the lives of millions of men and boys.

Key findings from the campaign briefing and published by the group today include:

· Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 35 and ends more lives than car crashes or cancer.

· Over 4 in 5 suicides are men.

· The biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide with eight men a week take their lives in Ireland.

· Because of social stigma and religious taboos, male suicide is significantly under reported, or deaths wrongly attributed to other causes such as ‘accidental’ or ‘undetermined intent’ by coroners.

· Dads are 3 times more likely to die after separation than mothers.

· Separation from children appears to be a significant factor in some men’s suicides.

· The suicides of dads are not included in any data despite separated dads aged 45 to 54 being the highest risk group.

Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers4Justice, said the campaign has been born out of the stories of suffering and loss the group had received.

"The campaign aims to break the wall of silence surrounding the men’s health crisis and calls on respective governments across the British Isles to take urgent action.”

“We want women and men to join together to tackle this wall of silence. In the same way that women’s health issues should be relevant to men, men’s health issues should also be tackled by everyone because they affect everyone. Those suffering will be someone’s son, someone’s nephew, someone’s uncle or someone’s father.”

“We need a comprehensive package of measures to tackle long-term health issues which face men including a recognised voice in government to coordinate efforts and show that, whilst the majority of politicians might be male they have shied away from tackling this health crisis.”

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