It's time to break the silence surrounding male suicide

Mark Austin

Former ITV News presenter

Archie Lamb Credit: ITV News

I spoke to a psychiatrist recently about depression in young people.

“Young women tend to cry for help," he told me. “Young men are more likely to suddenly kill themselves”.

It was a generalisation, yes, but also a point well made. Recent figures suggest the number of young men who kill themselves continues to rise.

The single biggest killer of men under 45 in England and Wales is not heart disease, not cancer, not road accidents. None of the above. It is suicide. It is self-inflicted death. Last year 78 per cent of all suicides were male.

The figures tell a story of sorts I suppose. But what they cannot convey is the bleak darkness suffered by so many young men and more often than not suffered in silence.

What they cannot convey is the dreadful impact depression and mental illness can have on a family trying to deal with it. And, of course, what they cannot convey is the awful impulse - be it worthlessness, hopelessness or a sense of utter despair - that drives someone to end it all.

Not for nothing is suicide in men described as a “silent epidemic”. And it is a silence that desperately needs to be broken.

In fact, the stigma attached to mental illness in general needs to be removed. Too often, because it is invisible, it goes unnoticed, unaddressed, and worse of all untreated .

And that is why a young man like Archie Lamb speaking out on ITV News today about his depression, his suicidal thoughts and the nature of his illness, is so important.

Now 27 and a successful music producer, Archie has suffered depression and mental illness since his mid-teens. He knows of what he speaks. It is emotional and powerful.

And it has an added impact because sat next to him as he speaks is his father Norman, a Lib Dem MP who has made it his absolute priority to get the issue out into the open.

He is leading a campaign to get mental health treated equally with physical health.

So yes, there is a political side to this. Norman Lamb’s view is that there has to be to get something done.

Too often, mental health patients have to wait too long to get help. Too often, they are denied beds or treatment close to home. Too often is the treatment unavailable unless they have money to pay.

Archie Lamb’s experience is more common than you would ever imagine. It is worth a watch.

He is helping to break the silence.