Across most bodies of psychological research, evidence has emerged showing that men are far less likely to reach out for help than women. This puts men at increased risk for the negative outcomes of psychological problems. For men with depression, the lack of help-seeking could result in increased severity of depressive symptoms and even suicide.
In previous decades, the suicide rates in certain regions of the world rose dramatically, prompting immediate attention to the problem of help-seeking. In Hungary, suicide rates were particularly high in the late 1900’s. However, the development of a four-level depression and suicide prevention program, designed in to provide outreach and help to those most in need, has shown to be quite effective in recent years.
The Nuremberg Alliance Against Depression (NAAD)/European Alliance Against Depression (EAAD) involves an anonymous crisis hotline, clinical treatment, public messages, and general practitioner training and awareness. Andras Szekely of the Institute of Behavioral Sciences at Semmelweis University in Hungary wanted to gauge the effectiveness of EAAD in Szolnok, Hungary, a region with a suicide rate four times that of the the global average. To do this, Szekely assessed citizens of Szolnok before they began participating in EAAD program and again two years later. Region suicide rates were calculated before and after, and compared to those of another Hungarian region with EAAD and also to the country’s national rate.
The results were very positive, showing a decrease in suicides of over 56% in the first year, 51% in year two and more than 60% in the third year. Additionally, in the past, efforts at prevention have only shown to positively affect depression and suicide in women. But the EAAD program had an equal effect on both men and women.
Szekely believes the use of an anonymous crisis hotline provided men with a resource that they felt comfortable using. In fact, the rate of suicide and depression related calls increased 200% during the study period. Further, the community services were used more often, perhaps partly due to the exhaustive public message campaign launched by EAAD. In all, these results provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of comprehensive prevention programs like EAAD. Szekely added, “Sustainability of improvements should be a key point in future research and its implementation.”
Székely, A., Konkolÿ Thege, B., Mergl, R., Birkás, E., Rózsa, S., et al. (2013). How to decrease suicide rates in both genders? An effectiveness study of a community-based intervention (EAAD). PLoS ONE 8(9): e75081. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075081
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