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Male youth suicide rates among the highest in Europe

The rate of suicide among young men in Ireland is one of the highest in Europe, a major new report has warned.

An estimated 165 young men took their own lives in the Republic in 2011 – out of a total of 525 suicides – while another 72 young men died by suicide in the North.

The stark statistics are revealed in the first All-Ireland report on young men and suicide which is published today.

The report said: "Although the rate of male suicide in Ireland is relatively low within the overall EU context, the rate among young males is amongst the highest in the EU.

"The recent spike in suicide rates among young males in both Northern Ireland and the Republic coincides with the economic downturn and increasing levels of unemployment."

The report, from the Men's Health Forum of Ireland, warns there are no quick fix solutions but there is no time for inertia or complacency. It said the two key factors known to be effective in reducing suicide rates are educating GPs in the recognition and treatment of depression and restricting access to lethal means of harm.

However, it pointed out that hanging is the most frequent method used by people taking their own lives in Ireland and and it is also one of the most difficult to restrict.

The report aims to provide a blueprint to promote positive mental health among young men on the island of Ireland.

Its recommendations include:

• Early intervention in childhood.

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• Developing positive models of mental health including sporting heroes.

• Services targeted at men.

• Expand measures to tackle alcohol and substance abuse.

• Challenging the old macho culture which prevents men seeking help.

The study found Ireland's overall suicide rate was average in Europe, but when data focused on young men it lagged only behind the Ukraine, Finland and Lithuania.

Dr Noel Richardson, author of its report 'Young Men and Suicide Project', said that over the past 10 years men had been five times more likely to take their own lives than women.

The Samaritans offer support to anyone suffering suicidal thoughts. Tel: 1850 609090

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