Lack of urgency in tackling male suicide, report claims

MPs say the current political and public policy approach to the biggest killer of men under 50 is ‘not working’.

A depressed man
A depressed man

The Government has shown “a lack of urgency” in its approach to tackling male suicide, according to a cross-party report.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Issues Affecting Men and Boys has concluded the current political and public policy approach to the biggest killer of men under 50 is “not working”.

The group has called for an overarching Men’s Health Strategy to be introduced, which includes a “clear” male suicide prevention strategy as a central foundation, to tackle the significant rate of suicide among men.

More than 4,700 men in England, Wales and Scotland took their own lives in 2021, and male suicide claims on average 13 lives a day in the UK.

On the findings of its report, published today, the APPG said: “Given the scale of male suicide, there is a lack of urgency and depth in terms of strategic political and public policy action because the current approach is not working.”

The report, based on the evidence of a range of national and international experts, found that male suicide should be viewed as a result of external factors such as employment, bereavement or relationship breakdown, rather than as a clinical and mental health outcome.

The group has said that only tackling these underlying issues “at the source” will reduce male suicide rates, and accused the current policy of exacerbating the problem by looking at the issue “through the wrong lens”.

The report makes a total of 16 key recommendations to the Government, including the creation of a new Government role of Minister for Male Health and Wellbeing to hold the Government accountable for its targets.

Man is upset
More than 4,700 men in the UK took their own lives in 2021 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Conservative Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher, who chairs the APPGs, called the rates of male suicide “a national emergency” and said that “not enough is clearly being done” to tackle the issue.

“These terrible figures are too readily accepted even though each and every suicide is devastating including for friends, family and work colleagues.

“We clearly need to look at the causes of male suicide and how and why men view suicide as a solution to the problems they face. We also need society, employers and public services to better listen, ask and act.

“We cannot place all the burden on the shoulders of men if the support is not there to help. Having a general suicide prevention plan is not enough, that does not deal with the fundamental issues and we also need public bodies to be more accountable.

“A men’s health strategy would also be a step forward and we urge the new Government to take this forward.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We know men, particularly middle-aged men, are an at-risk group for suicide, which is why we are providing them with targeted mental health support.

“All local areas now have suicide prevention plans addressing the specific needs of their populations, including targeting men on lower incomes and outreach activity in settings such as pubs, gyms and football clubs.

“We have invested an additional £57 million in suicide prevention funding and have provided £5.4 million to 113 suicide prevention charities to provide therapy and support to high-risk groups.”

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