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"Mortified, we hope it'll be grand": Enda speaks out on male depression

Men “tend to suffer in silence, or stubbornness”, the Taoiseach said today.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said that his fellow Irishmen tend to “suffer in silence” and find it difficult to reach out and get help for depression or suicidal thoughts.

He was speaking at the Irish Association of Suicidology (IAS) annual conference in Westport, Co Mayo. Keynote speaker Dr Paul Quinnett, CEO of the QPR Institute for Suicide Prevention in the US, noted that women were more likely to be treated for a mental health issue because they will speak to friends or family or seek professional help.

Men, however, still feel keenly a stigma “attached to both needing help and looking for it”, said the Taoiseach. Speaking of men, he said:

For us though, we tend to suffer in silence, or stubbornness. Mortified, we hope it’ll be grand, next week, or next month, or next year, when it will all go away. Only it won’t.That is why it is absolutely vital that the health service continue to work with voluntary groups so that the men in this country, many of them in physical and social isolation, can start to come in from the cold. And start to take care of their mental health.

He said that the Government was supporting suicide prevention by doubling funding for the National Office for Suicide Prevention from €4m in 2011 to almost €9m in 2014.

Kenny also highlighted the issue of depression and suicide among young people, of both genders, who he said are forced to inhabit “a world of ‘likes’, thumbs-up, followers, favourites”. He said that they were expected – and expecting – “to be impossibly thin, impossibly cool, impossibly talented, impossibly beautiful, impossibly rich and impossibly famous – at the risk of being impossibly damaged”.

  • You can read his whole speech here>

Labour senator Lorraine Higgins was also speaking on the topic in the Seanad this week, calling for a suicide prevention and awareness programme to be introduced for post-primary students. Just over 15 out of 100,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 years take their own life in Ireland every year.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said it would be possible for a short course of suicide awareness to be integrated into the time demands of the Junior Cert cycle, but stopped short of saying that it would be up to the Department to make it part of the curriculum. She said: “It is open to any NGO, interested stakeholders, or even a local school to develop a short course in order to fulfill the commitments of the Junior Cycle Framework.”

The HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention published its 2013 report yesterday. It found that funding local community groups and local programmes focusing on suicide was vital, as was promoting mental health across workplaces, schools, colleges, prisons and other institutions.

The National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) found that 11,061 cases of self-harm were recorded in hospitals around the country. That is a slight decrease of 6% on 2012, but four out of five patients with a history of five or more incidents of self-harm were repeatedly engaged in harming themselves.

Over 11,000 people ended up in hospital last year after self-harming>

Conor Cusack to talk about sport, suicide and how ‘it’s not always about winning’>

Helplines

  • Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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