Call for new crisis centre in Dundee to help folk thinking about suicide

Lesley Nicoll and Phil Welsh — the parents of Lee Welsh — next to a mural in his memory.

New figures have revealed that almost three quarters of all suicides in Dundee were among men.

The latest statistics released by the NHS show that there were a total of 147 suicides in Dundee between 2009 and 2015, of which 109 were men.

The figures also show that the majority of men who committed suicide in the city were employed in senior positions, such as managers, while 43% of men who committed suicide were unemployed, disabled or living off their own means.

One Dundee dad who knows only too well the devastation and heartbreak caused by suicide is Phil Welsh.

Lee Welsh, 27, of the city’s West End, took his own life in August, leaving his friends and family devastated. Phil  called for a crisis centre — similar to one in Edinburgh, which is open 24/7 and provides community based, emotional and practical support at times of crisis — to be set up in Dundee.

Phil told the Evening Telegraph: “Not until Lee died did I appreciate just how many men took their own lives.

“Lee’s death left our family heartbroken and we’re doing everything we can to stop this happening to other families.

“We would like to see a crisis centre set up in Dundee similar to the one in Edinburgh where people who feel suicidal can turn.”

The Tele previously told that Lee had battled mental health issues for almost a decade prior to his death.

Lee’s suicide prompted his parents to campaign for more action to help people with similar issues and following his death, the website Not in Vain for Lee was established.

He said: “If through this focus we can prevent one family from enduring the heartache we as a family are currently suffering, then Lee’s death will not have been in vain.”

Rob Burns, development manager of Dundee’s mental health service the Hearing Voices Network, said that the figures relating to men did not surprise him.

Mr Burns said men who have taken their own lives may not have spoken to anyone about the issues they are experiencing.

He added: “It is really quite frightening the number of people who take their own lives.

“We are very aware that up until now men have not been as willing to come forward to talk about their mental issues or other things that are concerning them as women have been.

“I would think the men in Dundee who have taken their own lives have not previously spoken to anyone about their concerns.

“We are currently doing a lot of work to get men to open up, including taking on more male volunteer supporters.”

The majority of men — 64% — who took their own lives were also single, compared to just over 18% who were married or in a civil relationship.

The figures also revealed that 36 suicides took place within five years of discharge from a mental health service.

While 22 — 15% — of all suicides occurred within 12 months of the person being discharged from a mental health service.

The stats also reveal that more than 87% of people were taking antidepressants at the time of death, while 44.6% were on drugs used in psychoses and related disorders.

The figures follow recent reports that Dundee’s suicide rate is at its highest in 21 years.

A total of 37 people took their lives in 2016 — more than three every month.

n If you feel suicidal, or just need someone to talk to, volunteers at the Samaritans are on hand to help 24 hours a day.

Contact them by calling 116123, or by emailing jo@samaritans.org.

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