A LEADING Oxfordshire psychiatrist is aiming to highlight the mental health support available to men amid stark new figures showing the true extent of male suicide in the area.

According Oxfordshire County Council figures, 131 of the 164 suicides in Oxfordshire between 2015 and 2017 were male.

Now consultant psychiatrist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust Dr Andrew Molodynski is encouraging men to speak up and seek help for issues such as loneliness or depression in an effort to tackle the ‘silent epidemic’.

He said: “As more people present for help, services are stretched and there can be a perception that there is no real help.

“Nothing could be further from the truth, but when unwell or desperate we often lose sight of that.

“Most people who end their lives have been unwell with conditions like depression, which is very common and affects up to one in four of us.

“At its least bad it is horrible, but more serious symptoms can be unbearable and dangerous.

“It’s crucial to get help early and we know that not everyone realises what is happening until later.

“Two key things that would help are asking each other how we are and making sure we do seek help if things are changing for us.

“Both of these are typically more difficult for us men, but we’re getting better.”

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Oxfordshire’s suicide rate is not significantly different from national and regional figures.

And while suicide rates in Oxfordshire (per 100,000 population) have remained relatively constant overall, sadly rates have increased in middle aged men in recent years.

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The Government strategy Preventing Suicide in England highlights factors associated with male suicide such as family and relationship problems including marital breakup and divorce.

Dr Molodynski, who is also National Mental Health lead at the British Medical Association, said it was important to recognise the early warning signs before the situation can worsen.

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He said: “Things to look out for are feeling sad all or most of the time, being easily tearful, having lots of worries about things, sleeping poorly, not enjoying things as much and doing less with friends or family.

“Obviously, we all get sad at times and there are times in life where we do a lot less and don’t enjoy stuff, but if these feelings get strong and persistent they often are a sign that help is needed.

“In the early stages, help can be anything from talking to someone (a counsellor or friend), having a brief course of therapy, taking tablets, or doing things such as cutting down on booze and doing more exercise.

“All can help and together most people get better.”

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Services offering support for mental health or drug and alcohol problems in Oxfordshire include MIND, Talking Space and Turning Point.

Anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide can contact The Samaritans by telephoning 116 123.