A thought-provoking presentation in January from Dan Morgan at James’ Place drew attention to the desperate need for timely support and guidance for suicidal men – it was alarming to hear suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 50 years old. James’ Place has a London centre in nearby Bunhill Row and is a charity offering free, life-saving treatment to suicidal men. Their professional therapists get quickly to the heart of a man’s suicidal crisis and help him solve it.

James’ Place was founded by Clare Milford Haven and Nick Wentworth-Stanley following the tragic death of their son James. Aged just 21, James took his own life ten days after a minor operation. He sought help for his anxiety and suicidal thoughts but didn’t find the urgent help he so desperately needed. Clare and Nick were determined to prevent other families from losing the men they love and set up the charity to help men in suicidal crisis.

Many people will experience suicidal thoughts in their lifetime. For most of us these thoughts will be fleeting, easily dismissed and often in response to a difficult situation or stressful event. The vast majority of people who experience thoughts of suicide do not go on to hurt themselves or end their life. However, for some people these thoughts will become repetitive, intrusive and overwhelming and they may begin to make plans to end their life.

  A therapy room at James’ Place.

There is often a misconception that suicide is the result of long-term mental illness but at James’ Place men are usually in suicidal crisis due to a life event such as a relationship breakdown, financial problems or bereavement. There are often no outward signs that someone may be suicidal.

Marwan*, who works in the entertainment industry in London, was helped by James’ Place last year and said: “I arrived at James’ Place after being referred following months of experiencing suicidal thoughts and actively looking at ways of taking my own life in as painless a way possible. I was given an initial assessment where I felt I could be completely frank about the factors I thought led to this point, however trivial I had previously been told by others these were.”

“I was treated with respect, kindness and understanding throughout my 10-week course of talk therapy, and allowed to reach my comfort zone of being able to talk about why I wanted to end my life following my therapist creating an environment of trust and candour. This in turn unveiled to me other reasons I had never really considered, ranging from my childhood experiences to other sources of trauma that I just didn’t realise were there, as well as helping me understand where my addictive tendencies towards work and substances came from.”

“Since my therapy at James’ Place my quality of life has greatly improved; it is as if I have learned how to be happy. It has helped me to escape the constant guilt by teaching me that I’m allowed to be human, alongside recognising and removing myself from the environments that are bad for me.”

Recognising you need help

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or are worried that you may act on them you should reach out for help now.

Some things to look out for include:

  • Thoughts such as ‘Everyone is fed up with me’, ‘No-one cares about me’, ‘I can’t see a way out of these problems’, ‘I want to die’.
  • Feelings such as feeling sad, hopeless, numb, trapped, alone.
  • Behaviours such as isolating yourself from people you care about, not looking after yourself, doing things that make you feel worse, searching for suicide methods online, putting a plan together to end your life.
  • Physical sensations or symptoms such as disturbed sleep pattern, feeling slowed down and sluggish, rapid heart rate, breathlessness.

Worried about someone else?
We don’t underestimate how hard it can be to talk to someone if you are worried that they are having suicidal thoughts.

Please be assured that talking to someone about suicide won’t put the thought into their head or make them feel worse. We know that having that conversation with someone can be the first step to getting them the help they need.

If you are concerned that someone you care about is feeling hopeless and might be facing a suicidal crisis, the best thing to do is ask direct questions, listen to their answers and be ready to signpost them to help.

Accessing help
Suicidal men in London can self-refer or be referred to us by a professional including those working in health and community services, or by a friend, colleague or family member. Visit www.jamesplace.org.uk for more information.

24-hour support is available via the Samaritans on 116 123, text SHOUT to 85258, or from your local A&E department or walk-in centre.

Hub of Hope is a useful resource and will quickly signpost you to what is available in your area.

*Name changed to protect identity