Headlines: September 13th, 2004

Three pilot schemes are to be run to try to encourage young men to seek earlier help and access to mental health services or support to help reduce the risk of suicide. The pilot programmes are to be key elements of the suicide prevention strategy drawn up by the National Institute for Mental Health in England.The mental health promotion pilots have been devised because suicide is now the commonest cause of death in men under 35. More than 1,300 young men in England take their own life each year and suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide, particularly in younger people. The pilots are being developed in Camden, Manchester and Bedfordshire.

Professor Louis Appleby, National Director for Mental Health, said at a personal level, suicide was a terrible and needless tragedy and each suicide represented both an individual tragedy and a loss to society.Professor Appleby said there was no single approach to suicide prevention and it was important in. developing strategies to involve and collaborate with a wide range of organisations and individuals. “This initiative promotes increased awareness about the problems of suicide and more important it helps us share initiatives at a local, national and international level,” he added.

The work will begin in all three areas at the beginning of October. Professor Appleby said young men were a key group to target in efforts to reduce the risk of suicide and it was vital to understand more about the variations in risk among the group. “These are important initiatives in our work to engage with young men and encourage them to seek help or support when in distress. The pilots will be evaluated and if successful will be disseminated widely as part of national mental health promotion work, ” he added.

About a quarter of suicides involve people who are in contact with specialist mental health services in the year before their death. The number of in-patient suicides has shown a marked drop. The Our Healthier Nation target is to reduce the death rate from suicide and undetermined injury by at least a fifth by 2010.