Charity urges more action on young male suicide

  • 12 March 2012
  • From the section Health
Danni Mather
Danni Mather says he overcame his suicidal thoughts after seeking help

A national suicide prevention charity is demanding that the government launches a major campaign to raise awareness of suicide.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 35 in the UK.

Shoulders hunched and legs pressed together, Danni Mather, 23, told Newsbeat about his experiences of feeling suicidal.

"I just felt empty - that's the only way you can describe it," he says. "It's just complete emptiness."

"You can't smile. You can be told the greatest joke in the world, the greatest news in the world, and you'll just feel like it's nothing. You just exist."

The musician says he did not have much to be depressed about but was unable to push the dark thoughts away.

On several occasions he considered suicide, he says: "Every time something goes wrong it becomes the first thing that pops into your head: just do it.

"You're waiting for a train and the first thing that pops into your head as you're waiting for it is get in front of it - because if that hits you you're not waking up."

Luckily for Danni, he received professional help and says he overcame his depression.

But more than 3,000 male deaths in England and Wales in 2010 were ruled as suicides or undetermined fatalities according to latest figures.

A total of 868 of those were aged between 15 and 35 - that is three times more than the number of women in the same age bracket.

Advice if you're affected by the issues in this article

Unemployment worries

Jane Powell, director of Calm - a charity that concentrates on preventing male suicide, says more needs to be done.

"Nine out of 10 people aren't aware that suicide is the biggest killer of young men under the age of 35," she explains.

"That disempowers both family and parents, plus the young men themselves.

"I think awareness of the dangers of salt is higher amongst parents then suicide, and that can't be good."

She wants the Department of Health to set up a campaign and says she is worried that economic problems, like high unemployment, could make the problem worse.

"For men, they are defined by in many people's eyes by what they do," says Powell.

"If they haven't got a job, then they're no one. I think that is part of why suicide is such a male issue."

Male suicides in the UK have reduced over the last 10 years but the figures are still far higher than those killed in road accidents or knife and gun crime.

Despite that, the man who used to head up the Department of Health's mental health division says the government's current approach is working.

"It took 25 years for the suicide rate in young men to double," says Louis Appleby.

"It took 12 years for it to fall back again to the same level, so something very beneficial has happened.

"Part of that has been the awareness of the front-line agencies that they are dealing with a very troubled, potentially high-risk, group of people."