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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
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Stephen Rea: Ireland not doing enough to tackle male suicide rates

“I have young sons. You worry desperately about young men who seem to lose connection.”

Brian O'Driscoll, Pieta House's Joan Freeman and Stephen Rea at yesterday's Darkness Into Light charity run launch.
Brian O'Driscoll, Pieta House's Joan Freeman and Stephen Rea at yesterday's Darkness Into Light charity run launch.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

ACTOR STEPHEN REA has warned Irish society that it is not doing enough to reduce its soaring rate of male suicides and he called on the government to address the crisis.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie at the launch of Pieta House’s annual ‘Darkness into Light’ charity walk at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin, the actor referred to the latest suicide figures which show that for every ten deaths by suicide in Ireland, eight of them are men.

“We aren’t addressing that,” he commented. “This has to happen at the highest level,” he said and suggested that the government had a role to play. He added:

I have young sons. You worry desperately about young men who seem to lose connection. I think it is much easier to lose connection in our society – we are in a kind of freefall.

He suggested there was “huge pressure to be men” as well as “pressure to succeed” and “financial pressures”. “We just have to watch out for the signs of suicide,” he said.

“When people were poorer they seem to have had less pressures. They were more together as a community. If people know how to express a need for help they can seek it but even older men – they don’t know how to reach out,” he said.

Rea explained why he was there in solidarity with Pieta House. “If you can help in saving one life or help these amazing people to do the great work they are doing – how could you refuse?” He was joined at the launch by rugby star Brian O’Driscoll.

Joan Freeman, founder and CEO of Pieta House, told TheJournal.ie that the former Irish rugby captain “won’t speak on behalf of any organisation dealing with suicide because he has experienced it at close hand and would find that far too difficult” – a reference to the death by suicide of his best friend in 2008.

Referring to Pieta House’s most recent campaign, ‘Mind Our Men’, Freeman, a psychologist who set Pieta House up in 2006, described Ireland’s suicide rate as “appalling”.

“We need to mind our men in this country because they are dying. If we can address the male suicide rate, we are tackling the overall figure of suicide,” she said.

She underlined the importance of friends, family and colleagues as the “eyes and ears” between the people in distress and organisations like Pieta House.

“We have got to encourage people to know the signs. mindourmen.ie provides information on the symptoms of suicide and the tipping points that cause men to take their lives,” she said.

Pieta House is a professional therapeutic service which is free of charge.

The ‘Darkness into Light’ walk takes place on 11 May 2013 at twenty venues around the country. The main walk begins at 4.30am in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

Read more at Mindourmen.ie>

Support for all affected by depression at Pieta.ie>

Other helplines include:

  • Samaritans 1850 60 90 900 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634
  • Console 1800 201 890
  • Aware 1890 303 302
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66

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Sarah Mac Donald

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