Male Suicide – Underfunding

Heard of Project84? No? Me neither until about a week ago.

Project84, a new campaign undertaken by calm, is named for the 84 men who kill themselves every week. Calm chose to do this by erecting 84 statues on top of a London building. Check out the pictures. I, for one, was impressed by the images for the campaign. Any person walking the streets and looking up would feel the instant lurch of worry that people may really be up there and ready to jump.

It raises awareness for male suicide – the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. I am focusing on male suicide in this post because I have recently been talking about stigma in regards to mental health.

Men suffer more in the realm of stigma when it comes to mental health. For a long time there has been a fear among men to talk about their feelings. To open up and discuss deep-rooted issues. I felt it myself before I really started talking. But it is not only that there is a great deal of silence from men, there is also a vast gap in resources where mental health is concerned.

I will give a brief summary of my journey with mental health as an example.

I was at university the second time I was struck by depression. I walked to the local hospital and into the main reception. When I asked if there was anyone I could see regarding depression the ladies behind the desk said there wasn’t anything to cater for it in the building.

My Dad told me to see if the university offered counselling. They did so I booked an appointment. Two days later I was seen by a counsellor, told her my problems and hoped that her words might change my world.

They didn’t. After hearing my story she asked me if I had any hobbies. I told her I liked climbing. She told me that was good. That it showed I was ascending in some way.

Two hours later I slit my wrist by a dumpster. I was taken to hospital and patched up. After that I was seen by the Crisis Team and moved back to West Sussex where I continued meeting with the teams and getting my life back on track.

In my last depressive episode I went to a different hospital to ask to see someone regarding my mental health. At this point I wanted to commit suicide but was forced by my partner to keep on fighting.

When I got to the hospital I was seen to by a psychiatrist who offered me a weeks worth of diazepam and sleeping pills and then gave me a pamphlet for the local commumity team.

I was told that the community team would try to contact me in two weeks time.

A few days later I tried to leave my fiance at her door in order to go and step in front of a train. A crew turned up from a bespoke paramedic unit and told me that I was going to be taken to the psychiatric ward.

There were no beds in the local unit so I had to travel from Crawley to Eastbourne General. I stayed there four nights. At one time when I was allowed out I walked away from the hospital and up to Beachy Head. It was raining. I was cold. I had turned my phone off and I carried a piece of flint sharp enough to cut and planned to jump from the cliffs.

It was only when I realised the effect it would have on my fiance that I turned around and head back to the ward.

Anyway, I finally got a bed in the Crawley ward at Langley Green. I was transferred and seen to by a clinical psychologist.

Until a person hits critical point there is very little that can be done for those who suffer mentally. The services are simply not there in the initial stages and it’s only when an attempt at suicide is made that there is a response.

These two factors combined (men not wanting to talk and a lack of resources) are a deadly mix. There should be more funding for mental health services and there should be a large scale movement to encourage men to speak about their problems. Day by day this seems to be changing. But my experience makes me believe that it is not happening quick enough.

I only hope this blog post does a little bit toward helping that.

Photo above – a set of drill pieces for woodwork

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