Anti-Suicide Programmes Should Try to Target Those Most at Risk; Statistics Show Men in Wales Are More Than Four Times More Likely to Kill Themselves Than Women. but Efforts to Combat Suicides Here Are Failing to Target the Most At-Risk Group. but AM Bethan Jenkins Argues Attempts to Reduce the Suicide Rate Will Struggle to Make an Impact until They Have a Sharper Focus. Darren Devine Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Darren Devine

IN 2010 the suicide rate was 19.3 per 100,000 of population for men in Wales and 4.6 for women.


Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins wants English charity Calm (the Campaign Against Living Miserably), a helpline with a website and a magazines , to operate here as it receives a large volume of calls from Wales.

She believes the group has had more success by targeting men than the official Assembly Government campaign Talk to Me. The Assembly campaign focuses more broadly on all "vulnerable people".

Suicide is the biggest single killer of men under-35 in the UK and Calm was set up to try to counter the trend.

The Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales West said: "They appeal to younger men in terms of targeting clubs and pubs and student evenings. They hear that men are put off by the statutory interventions as they cannot relate to them.

"I've done research on this issue and there's nothing in the Talk to Me Welsh Government strategies that have policies specifically to target men despite the high risk of suicides."

Calm has also put messages in taxis operating in areas that may take people to suicide hotspots.

More than 75% of those who use the charity in both London and Liverpool are men.

When chief executive Jane Powell set up Calm in Liverpool 10 years ago the city had the highest rate of suicide for men under 35 in the UK.

Now Liverpool's rate is below the national average.

The charity maintains it lacks the funding to set up a base here without support from one of Wales' local health boards.

Miss Jenkins is planning to write to Health Minister Lesley Griffiths urging her to set up a pilot study that would allow Calm the chance to move into Wales.

Ms Powell said the group tried to set up in Wales after several young people died in Bridgend between January 2007 and February 2009, but was given short shrift.

She said: "It was very hard to get through at the time and we never got any further.

"People had done their own work and research and come up with their own campaigns and who was this weirdly named charity called the Campaign Against Living Miserably from England? It was partly that."

In 2010 suicide across the population increased by about 12% from 258 in 2009 to 288.

In the latest figures for Wales it's men over 75 who are actually most vulnerable.

The suicide rate in that age category is 20.2 per 100,000 of population, compared to 18.8 in those aged 15 to 44 and 19.8 in those between 45 and 74.

Experts say traditional notions of masculinity that characterise men as strong and self-reliant, mean they are more likely to bottle up problems than seek help. …