Men across Tayside continue to suffer in silence when afflicted by thoughts of suicide, Scotland’s leading mental health charity has warned.
Even in the darkest of times, the Scottish Association for Mental Health believes all too many people – and men in particular – are still scared to speak out and seek help.
In the build-up to this month’s World Suicide Prevention Day, new figures show that fewer Scots are taking their own lives.
Nonetheless, Liam Yule, who works as a suicide prevention manager with the charity, said the number of men committing suicide remained “alarmingly high”.
He is convinced a lot of good preventative work is going on in both Tayside and Scotland as a whole, but feels the stigma of mental health is still very real and remains the biggest barrier stopping people from speaking out.
He wants to see that change and ensure that those in need of support have the confidence to seek the help they need.
An in-depth NHS publication released this week showed there were 4,464 deaths by suicide in Scotland between 2009 and 2014.
Locally, 127 people committed suicide in Dundee during the same period, with a further 91 in Perth and Kinross and 84 in Angus taking their own lives.
The statistics do, however, also show the number of suicides nationally has fallen for the fifth year in a row, with 672 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2015, down from 696 the previous year.
Middle-aged men are still the most likely to take their own lives.
Liam said excellent work was continuing locally to address the issue – with an increase in the number of referrals for counselling in Angus one positive step.
He said: “We need to let people know it’s OK not to be OK.
“It’s pleasing to see nationally we have seen another reduction in suicides, but three-quarters of suicides in Scotland were still men.
“All too many men are still suffering in silence.
“We are encouraging more men to seek support, but we know how difficult that can be.
“The hardest thing is still overcoming the stigma that still exists.”
Liam added: “In Angus, looking at the rates, there seems to be a slight increase in referrals, but is that because people are speaking out instead of suffering in silence?
Among the services on offer to local people is a specially-designed mobile app which gives people experiencing a mental health crisis tips on who can be contacted for help in Tayside.
Since being launched in 2013 the app has been downloaded thousands of times.
Liam added: “It’s pleasing to see so much work being done locally.
“Tayside is leading the way in many ways with the work being done.”
SAMH can provide all manner of support for those struggling with mental health issues.
Anyone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide and wants someone to speak to immediately can call the Samaritans at any time on 116 123.