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Sunday, October 17, 1999 Published at 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK


Lad culture blamed for suicides

Neil Morrissey's TV rôles are seen as examples of new lad culture

Lad culture is killing young men, says a report by the Samaritans.

It claims macho attitudes to talking about problems mean men are denied the social support they need.

Mental Health
The number of suicides in the UK has been falling in recent years, but it has risen by 60% among young men between the 1970s and the 1990s.

Every week 12 men between the ages of 15 and 24 kill themselves, says the Samaritans.

The BBC's Kim Catcheside speaks to one of the men who contributed to the report
A survey of 1,400 men aged between 13 and 19 found that 67% who had suicidal feelings said they had nowhere to turn for emotional help.

More than a third of these would "smash something up" rather than talk about a problem.

Many also turned to cigarettes or drugs to relieve stress.

Less than a fifth of the men surveyed would confide in their father if they had an emotional problem and only 39% of the suicidal said they would call Samaritans helpline.

Open about feelings

Adrienne Katz, co-author of the Young Men Speak Out research, said: "Many of the lads I spoke to said 'nobody ever asks me how I really feel'.

"We have to let lads know that it is safe to talk and that they won't be judged by society for being open about their feelings."

[ image:  ]
Simon Armson, chief executive of the Samaritans, commented: "The new lads' culture denies emotional support to young men and encourages them to appear tough and bottle up their emotions.

"It is the responsibility of each one of us to help break down the culture that makes it difficult for men to talk about their feelings."

The survey also showed that 78% of depressed and suicidal men have been bullied while 69% had experienced violence from an adult.

Some 50% had been in trouble with the police, compared with 17% of the non-suicidal.

The government has made reducing suicides one of the main planks of its public health strategy.

Mental health stigma

The Health Education Authority has recently launched a campaign to help lower suicide rates among young men.

[ image:  ]
The campaign used football teams and stars, including England coach Kevin Keegan, in an effort to reduce the stigma over mental health.

Experts say young men are a difficult group to access with health information and several recent projects have concentrated on outreach work at sports centres or pubs.

Research shows men are much more reluctant than women to visit their doctor or talk to them about an emotional problem.

The Doctor Patient Partnership says several suicidal men have been to their GP shortly before killing themselves.

It believes doctors need to be more alert to signs that they are depressed.

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