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Men four times at risk of committing suicide than women – new report

MEN are four times more at risk of committing suicide than women, official figures have shown, as a leading trade unionist appealed for more to be done to prevent work-related suicide.

David Begg, Congress general secretary, called for people to acknowledge the link between working conditions and suicide, and how improvements can help prevention.

"This is of particular importance at a time when working people everywhere are under enormous pressure and suffering with the strain of the current crisis," he said.

"People spend so many hours in the workplace - sometimes half of their waking hours. The workplace is not just where you spend so much of your time but it also defines who you are.

"People are so very much conditioned by experiences in the workplace. Some people are going through their own personal hell. This is where colleagues and employers can feel most helpless - they ask themselves was there some intervention that could have been made to prevent this from happening."

The Congress chief made the call as the Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealed 2010 figures which showed 386 men, compared to 100 women, committed suicide in that year.

The suicide mortality rate among men was 17 per 100,000 - more than four times the female rate.

Suicide bereavement charity Console and the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) have joined forces to publish a guide aimed at helping employers to respond appropriately when a workplace is affected by suicide, whether through the death of an employee or where a staff member is impacted by a death outside work.

Mr Begg referred to international cases where there had been significant numbers of suicides in single companies, such as 17 in a phone company in China.

"It is difficult to get a handle on the economic climate and its contribution to a rise in suicides," he said.

"We must be desperately alert to see what our colleagues might be going through and possibly make an intervention when we can."

The Console-IHF guidance was jointly launched by Congress and the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec).

It details what steps employers can make if a worker dies in a suicide on-site or off-site, if an employee is affected by the suicide of someone close to them or if a former employee commits suicide.

Brendan McGinty, Ibec director of industrial relations and human resource services, said: "We find many employers struggling to provide support to devastated employees so guidance in this area is long overdue."

The guide includes background information on how people are affected by suicide - their short-term and long-term needs; useful tips for managers in supporting an employee bereaved by suicide; frequently asked questions and a sample bereavement policy.