Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre

Ireland Men's Health Forum: Young Men And Suicide Project

ymspfullreport 1 Like many countries, Ireland has an ongoing problem with young men taking their lives at a rate of five times that of females. This project examined effective ways to reduce suicide. 

"The project aimed to promote positive mental health among young men and to assess the efficacy of these approaches..."

Suicide of young males has always been an issue in Ireland and like many countries, a disproportionate number of young males suicide compared to their female counterparts.

This project is the outcome of five years of research that set out to uncover the factors that lead to suicides and what can be in a policy and community context to reduce the kinds of systemic issues that lead to suicidal actions.

Recognised Factors That Lead To Suicide

It is now well-established that suicide often occurs as a result of long-standing issues in a man's life that come to a head during a time of particular stress. It is common to find a pattern of disadvantage or ongoing stress that builds over time and then results in self-harming behaviours.

Some of the factors that were identified to contribute to greater rates of male suicide in Ireland include:

  • use of more violent means of self-harm (eg hanging, guns) so that attempts more often resulted in death
  • lower levels of help-seeking behaviours in males with mental illness
  • increased levels of alcohol and substance abuse
  • resistance to seeking help as a result of shame, stigma, embarrassment or other barriers.
  • sexuality and issues associated with homosexuality
  • living conditions around economic and financial circumstances 

Within the Northern Ireland context, a number of gaps have been identified in relation to supporting young men who may be at risk of suicide and self harm, including:

  • A general absence of work that specifically targets young men.
  • A lack of support in terms of raising awareness of the particular considerations for work with young men and for designing effective interventions with them.
  • The absence of work focused on personal development and mental health promotion with young men.
  • The absence of robust evaluation on 'what works' with young men.

Specific Approaches That Promote Good Practice:

  • Focus on mind health or mental fitness not mental health.
  • Plan services and programmes with young men in mind, and work on developing trust and safety through the creation of non-threatening and male-friendly environments.
  • Consult and involve young men in programme development and programme delivery.
  • Find a ‘hook’, and look for avenues that appeal to young men.
  • Target programmes early.
  • Target programmes to those young men most in need.
  • Use language that is positive and solution-focused.
  • Consider the use of role models and marketing in suicide prevention work with young men.
  • Consider the potential of peer support and mentoring.
  • Evaluate what type of suicide prevention interventions work with young men.


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