Monday, February 18, 2008

Fall in the suicide rate for young men in the UK - but more young women use dangerous methods

When I read the headline on the BBC website about the fall in suicide among young men in the UK I thought I had come across a reason to hope that in one society, at least, a way had been found to tackle this painful problem.

Well, it has and it hasn't. The suicide rate for young men in England and Wales is at its lowest level for 30 years, the report says. But this isn't due to a change in attitudes. "One key factor has been a cut in toxins in vehicle exhaust fumes because of catalytic converters - making it harder for people to kill themselves," it says.

Still, it's a good outcome but how long will it be before young men turn to more dangerous alternatives? Young women seem to be doing this already, with a dramatic rise in hanging. Could this, I wonder, be an unintended consequence of measures that made it more difficult to put together a large supply of paracetamol? Nevertheless, suicide rates among young women are at their lowest level since 1968.

Suicide is an extraordinarily complicated issue but the UK figures suggest that in Ireland we can hope to get the figures down by a variety of measures - even if those measures and their possible consequences are far from straightforward.

(This is the complete post. Ignore "Continue reading" link below.)

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