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Drive to tackle suicide in men.

Byline: Craig Thompson Chief Reporter

MORE than half of men between 18 and 45 have considered taking their own lives.

The shocking revelation sparked calls for more to be done to help tackle suicide in the North East.

They come as a national campaign is launched highlighting male suicide as the single biggest killer of men aged under 45.

According to latest YouGov figures, only half of North East men who have considered suicide were able to then discuss their feelings.

The worrying trend in male suicides was highlighted recently following the broadcast of rapper Professor Green's male suicide documentary on the BBC.

This new campaign - called Bigger Issues - aims to ensure the dialogue around suicide continues. In 2014, there were 4,623 male suicides in the UK, accounting for 76% of all suicides. Despite the fact that suicide is the single biggest cause of death of men in this age group, a recent YouGov poll shows that only a fifth of the public realise that suicide is the most likely cause of death for men aged under 45.

Shirley Smith launched the "If U Care Share Foundation" following the death of her 19-year-old son, Daniel O'Hare, from Great Lumley, near Chester-le-Street, more than 10 years ago.

The foundation carries out suicide prevention and support work in the North East and has dealt with over 13,000 young people.

Daniel's brother, Matthew, who was 10 when he died in 2005, is now 21 and works as a project manager for the organisation, delivering workshops.

Shirley said: "There is more work which desperately needs to be done to show men who fall into this category that there are other options for them."

Shirley said there are often three main reasons why men consider taking their own lives - financial problems, bereavement issues and relationship worries.

"In many ways, these can all be viewed as a type of loss," she added. "This in turn can lead to men feeling like they have had a loss of identity.

"Often men, particularly in the North East, find it hard to talk, to express how they are feeling. What we desperately need is an awareness campaign that educates us all into bringing down barriers."

The #BiggerIssues advertising campaign juxtaposes the huge attention society can sometimes pay to relatively trivial topics with its unwillingness to engage openly with the issue of male suicide.

Digital poster sites, launched in Newcastle's Eldon Square this week, will be updated in real time to chart major conversation topics on social media and how, while we are happy to talk about league tables, fleeting fashion trends and soap storylines, male suicide remains a taboo subject.


Shirley Smith from Great Lumley, founder of If U Care Share PAUL NORRIS

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 4, 2015
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