Toronto Sun

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Male suicide alert

By IAN MCDOUGALL, TORONTO SUN

Ontario men are committing suicide at an alarming rate, and a Toronto counsellor thinks it's time to offer them the same mental help as women.

Suicide was the leading cause of injury-related deaths among men aged 35 to 64 in Ontario in 1998-99, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported yesterday. Ontario had 1,012 deaths due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries during that period.

Part of the problem could be a reluctance in suicidal men to seek help, said Karen Letofsky, a spokesman for the Distress Centres of Toronto.

MALES ATTACH STIGMA

"For males there's a stigma attached with identifying yourself with a mental-health problem," Letofsky said. "Part of that whole male identity is pride and independence."

Letofsky pointed to figures from her own centre, which show only 40% of the people who ask for help are men.

Men also have a greater tendency towards substance abuse, which has been correlated with suicide, she said.

Dr. Isaac Sakinofsky, at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said the health-care profession needs to pay more attention to what pushes people to end their lives.

The Distress Centre can be reached at 416-408-4357.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.