Background & Context
Boys in Mind / Girls Mind Too Strategy
We have been working together for the last two years to develop a strategy to try to reduce the level of male suicides in Bath & North East Somerset and its surrounding area. Our area is broadly similar to England as a whole. The good news is that the suicide rate is falling amongst males. Despite this suicide remains the main cause of death for men under the age of 49.
Our most recent figures show that during the three year period 2015-2017 there were 48 deaths registered of people normally resident in B&NES as having died from suicide or undetermined intent. Three quarters of these were males.
Due to the very small numbers it is not possible to state here how many of these were of young people but we know anecdotally a number of these deaths were of young men aged under 25. Thankfully the number of young people who take their own life remains low.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2017 there were 177 suicides among 15- to 19-year-olds across the nation as a whole.
Cases of suicide
In the most recent Confidential Inquiry into Suicide by Children and Young People (HQUIP: 2017) underlying stresses which may have led to suicide were explored. The inquiry found that suicide in young people is rarely caused by one thing. It usually follows a combination of previous vulnerability and recent events.
Being male is one factor (76% of deaths) but in both males and females rates were highest amongst those where there had previously been reports of self-harm. Academic pressures, bullying , financial problems and bereavement were common preceding stresses. Rates were also higher amongst young people who had identified as LGBT.
National mental health data
More broadly at a national level mental health data for males aged 5 – 19 years is similar to that of females for the same age with 12.6 % of males having a mental health disorder compared to 12.9% of girls.
It should be noted though that rates are considerably higher amongst 17 – 19 year old females (23.9%) compared to males (10.3%) and discussion as to why this might be the case is important.
Whilst this strategy focusses on young men it acknowledges that at a national and local level the suicide rate for females is increasing which is a cause for concern.
Other local data
This shows far fewer boys and young men accessing support services for mental health and well-being; a much higher rate of school exclusions for boys and young men; a higher prevalence of young men in youth offending and drug & alcohol services as well as poorer performance of boys and young men academically.
We know that many young men with suicidal thoughts feel unable to seek help.
Consultation with them tells us that male suicide is the tip of an iceberg with many boys and men experiencing a whole spectrum of mental health challenges, some of which are extreme and many of which are never addressed or are not even known about.
Tough to talk
Boys and young men tell us that it is very hard for them to talk about any difficulties whether great or small and that small problems can build to become large ones.
Childline’s tough to talk campaign addresses the concerning statistic from 2015/16 that boys are 6 times less likely than girls to seek help for the problems and issues they are facing.
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