BOSSES of a Glasgow charity say it is currently preventing five people each week from taking their own lives.

Men Matter Scotland says its lifeline mental health and suicide prevention services have never been more in demand after a surge in the number of people coming through its doors – and is calling on the Scottish Government to urgently tackle the crisis.

It comes as new figures show Glasgow has recorded the highest level of suicides in Scotland over the last five years. The statistics reveal that people living in deprived parts of the city are almost 3% more likely to end their lives because of debt and poverty compared to other areas.

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Men Matter Scotland taking part in Kiltwalk

In contrast to the city’s data, the figures, released by the National Records of Scotland, show that the number of people across the country taking their own lives has decreased, with 753 recorded suicides in 2021, the lowest number since 2017.

Despite this trend, the number of deaths in Glasgow rose from 88 to 106 between 2017 and 2021.

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Gregor Ritchie, from Men Matter in Drumchapel, told the Glasgow Times that they are receiving more calls from people at their lowest ebb than ever before.

He said: “Every single day we are seeing someone who is suicidal and urgently needs help. Some days we field a number of calls from people in complete despair.

“We provide immediate crisis support to prevent them from trying to end their lives. Our stats show that men living in deprived areas of Drumchapel are four times more likely to commit suicide than those in a more affluent part of the city. It’s a desperate situation, and one we are determined to change.

“The majority of our members have experienced trauma early in their lives and have never received the support they needed to cope. There’s a real lack of mental health help for men and that needs to change.

“We offer everything from counselling and crisis intervention to support groups, advocacy and financial help. We also give people housing advice and support in dealing with issues around the criminal justice system.

“The Scottish Government needs to deliver a long-term sustainable plan to catch those individuals who are falling through the gaps. There needs to be better access to help and a reduction in the long waiting list for counselling and rehab.

“Something needs to drastically change to turn these numbers around.”

The data also showed there has been a sharp increase in the number of men aged between 65 and 84 who have taken their own life, as well as people between 25 and 34.

Ann Marie Cocozza, co-founder of Families and Friends Affected by Murder Suicide, says it’s time the Scottish Government reacted to Glasgow’s ‘silent epidemic’.

She added: “Unfortunately these figures are not a surprise, and I fear they will only get worse. I’ve called suicide a silent epidemic for a number of years, yet nothing is being done to tackle it.”

Samaritans Scotland says the data shows an urgent need for targeted resources to support suicide prevention.

Danielle Rowley, Samaritans Scotland’s influencing manager, said: “Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and 753 deaths show us there is still a huge amount of work to be done.

“Those living in Scotland’s most deprived areas remain three times more likely to take their own life than those in parts of the city where poverty isn’t such an issue, and men continue to account for most of the deaths.”

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A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said work is being done to tackle the problem.

Mental wellbeing minister Kevin Stewart added: “Every death by suicide is a tragedy for the loved ones left behind and, while the number of deaths has dropped in recent years, I remain committed to reducing suicide and providing support for those affected by this heartbreak.

“We provide annual funding of £300,000 to Public Health Scotland to provide support for local suicide prevention work, which helps communities implement local suicide prevention action plans.

“Our ambition is to get everyone working together to prevent suicide which is why we have been engaging with those affected to publish a prevention strategy for Scotland next month. This will set out how the Government, partners and local communities can come together to help prevent future suicides.”

Case Study

WILLIE, 69, from Scotstoun, says he wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the support he received from Men Matter Scotland.
He turned to the charity after trying to take his own life on four separate occasions having battled addiction and homelessness.
He explains: “This charity saved me, it is as simple as that. When I arrived at their doors I was broken, isolated and struggling with addiction.  Within a week I was able to access their counselling services and I was given the knowledge and tools to turn my life around. I can’t thank the charity enough.”
Willie now volunteers with the charity and says its 24/7 crisis services make a huge difference to those in need.
He added: “I was scared of living and not afraid to die. Now I’m so grateful to have a chance at life.”

If you are in need of any support, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or Men Matter Scotland on 0141 944 7900.