The suicide rate among men in England and Wales is increasing – and men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women.
DAVE GOODBAN reports
THE founder of a charity dedicated to preventing young men committing suicide has been backed by the Chester family of football icon Gary Speed.
Although an inquest ruled the late Wales manager’s death by hanging could have been an accident, his family decided one of the charities to benefit should be Calm (the Campaign Against Living Miserably).
Calm began as a Department of Health pilot project in 1997, and became a registered charity in 2006.
“The Campaign Against Living Miserably was set up to reduce the high suicide rate among men under 35 – currently the single biggest killer of young men in the UK,” said founder and director Jane Powell.
“Most men considering taking their own lives aren’t in contact with any other agency and don’t identify with much out there.
“When asked, what they indicated they wanted was practical, anonymous, confidential help from professionals, which is why Calm was formed.”
In 2010 there were 4,532 suicides in England and Wales – and 3,421 of them were men.
Calm was named as one of the beneficiaries of the recent Gary Speed Memorial Match in Cardiff, when Wales lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in the national side’s first game since his death.
Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant said: “I would like to draw attention to the charity highlighted by the Speed family, Calm, which aims to help reduce suicide in young men.
“Many young people suffer from forms of depression that can lead them into a downward spiral, but there is help available.”
Jane told the Chronicle the death of the 42-year-old dad-of-two, who lived in Huntington, has turned the spotlight on to the unspoken issue of depression in men.
She said the support of the family of such a high-profile star is invaluable to her fledgling charity – and that the level of publicity the former Leeds, Everton and Newcastle midfielder’s death prompted has coincided with a marked increase in the number of calls to Calm.
“When Gary’s family came to us we were really honoured and moved,” she said. “We are a tiny charity and it will make a big difference.
“Gary’s death was a huge thing and talking about it has changed the entire landscape. The impact of his death has been so profound.”
Jane added: “There are many reasons why young men need a campaign like Calm.
“Everyone has their own life, with different interests, circumstances, pressures and problems. But men aren’t supposed to talk about stuff, so it can be hard for them to know where or who to go to for help when life gets on top of them.
“This year we’ve noticed a considerable rise in the number of enquiries, and part of that is because of the death of Gary Speed.”