The frightening rise in male suicide in the North is to be examined by two universities there, it was announced today.
Researchers from Queen’s and the University of Ulster urged young men in the suicide hot-spot of north and west Belfast who have considered taking their lives to speak to them in a bid to help others in the same situation.
In the coming months the research will be extended to Craigavon, Co Armagh, and Banbridge, Co Down.
The team want to speak confidentially to men aged between 16 and 35 who have thought seriously about or acted with the intention of suicide, in order to develop care and support programmes for those at risk.
During interviews they will be asked to talk about the issues in their lives which prompted their thoughts of killing themselves and the types of help and support that they used when suicidal.
More than a fifth of the 242 people registered in 2007 as having committed suicide were males between 16 and 35.
Dr Joanne Jordan, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s, is leading the study, 'Providing Meaningful Care: Learning From The Experiences Of Suicidal Men'.
She said those who take part will be able to access counselling free of charge with a counsellor accredited by the British and Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and will receive information about support services in their area.
Dr Jordan said: “This rise in suicide in Northern Ireland over the recent past is now a matter of record. In recent part this increase has been prompted by a rise in male suicide, particularly among young men.”
While latest statistics suggested suicides among young males were beginning to level off from the previous years’ increase, there was no room for complacency, she said.
“Suicide continues to claim far too many young men’s lives, making it imperative that we learn about the circumstances in which they are led to consider it,” added Dr Jordan.
She will work with a team from the University of Ulster, including Professor Hugh McKenna, Dean of Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, Dr Sinead Keeney, senior lecturer in the Institute of Nursing Research, and Iain McGowan, lecturer in the School of Nursing.
Prof McKenna said: “Talking directly to young men about their experiences means that we will be able to hear about ways of developing care and support that make sense to them.
“We want to hear from young men who have sought help from services as well as those who have not.
“It’s important that we learn from their experiences so that the recommendations we develop for policy and practice are realistic and relevant.”
Any young men in the north and west of Belfast who wish to take part in the study can contact the team through Mr McGowan on 07894 646690 or by email to menssuicidestudyulster.ac.uk.