This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

The services provided by the Men Matter charity in their Drumchapel hub are nothing short of stunning. 

There are pool tables, Playstations, and a well-stocked music room. They even have a podcast studio.

All sorts of therapies are available to service users, including a sound bath, where someone bangs a gong as you meditate. 

Every weekend, a few of them head to Luss for cold water therapy, which is exactly what it sounds like. No wetsuits, just a dunk in Loch Lomond in your trunks.

And it’s all free. Anyone can turn up and ask for help. And many do. 

The reason this charity exists is documented on the wall in the hub’s main room, in the photographs of the men who have died by suicide. 

There are a lot of them. 

Underneath each photo is their date of birth and their date of death. 

Some of them are really only boys. Many are, like me, in their early-40s. 

Anne Hughes, the charity’s director, says that men in crisis are often sent to the charity by doctors surgeries, hospitals, social workers, the police.

Read more:

'There is always hope': Raw data and addressing suicide in Scotland

A great deal of their funding comes from people who have lost someone to suicide.  

She tells the story of one regular service user who suffers from bipolar disorder and went to end his life. He told Men Matter what he was about to do and some of the men stopped him before he could act. 

“We took him to the Queen Elizabeth [University Hospital]. We sat in there for seven hours. He had recognized bipolar, they had to refer them, they couldn't let them go, they had to refer him to Leverndale [mental health hospital]. 

“He sits there for two or three hours and then he’s given six diazepam, even though he has said I am going home to suicide. 

“Where they actually sent him was back to us because our guys were not letting him go home himself. 

“That guy is now doing a bit better and he's in here a lot and he's still with us. But that's because of a charitable organisation that is paid by people whose partners and sons and brothers have suicided. 

“That's the only reason that man's still alive. 

“It has nothing to do with statutory services that should have been the ones that were catching that guy.”

There are almost certainly situations like this across Scotland. And there are almost certainly charities like Men Matter across Scotland, underfunded and doing their best.

They should be working in partnership with the public sector, but it doesn’t feel like that at the coalface. 

Read more:

UnspunAnalysis: Just how gubbed are the Tories?

Instead, it feels as if they’re picking up the people missed or forgotten or abandoned by overstretched health services. 

The most recent statistics, which cover 2022, showed that the number of probable suicides in Scotland had risen slightly to 762 deaths.

Of those 556 were men. The rate of suicide for men is 2.9 times as high as it is for women. 

It’s also much higher, around 2.6 times as high, for those in the country’s most deprived areas.

The average age for suicide death in Scotland in 2022 is 41.9.

The Herald:
A recent analysis by the House of Commons Library found that the suicide rate had been “consistently” higher in Scotland than in Northern Ireland, Wales and England.

In 2022, the Scottish Government and council umbrella body, Cosla, published Creating Hope Together, a new ten-year suicide strategy. 

You have to hope it will do better than the last one. The aim of 2018’s Every Life Matters was to reduce the rate of suicide by 20% from a 2017 baseline by 2022. 

Instead, figures from NRS showed that it had increased to 14.4 suicides per 100,000 population compared to a rate of 13.3 in 2013-2017.

The ten-year strategy aims to address the root causes of suicide, tackling issues like poverty, addiction, and social isolation, and calls for a coordinated and integrated approach to suicide prevention efforts in Scotland.

Something we don't have right now. Holyrood's Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee is probing the strategy. 

The government has to get this right. People's lives depend on it.

Get Scotland's top politics newsletter straight to your inbox.

“The thing which most worries me is we are now setting up the next generation with adverse childhood experiences because their dads aren't getting the support they need,” Anne warns. 

“So their dads are ending up in mental health institutions. Their dads are perhaps suiciding or ending up in hospital or in prison and actually we're just creating the next generation of people who've got adverse childhood experiences that they never deal with, that they didn't know that was traumatising. 

“And they end up here and at 45.”

Men Matter can be contacted on 0141 944 7900 or The Hub is open 10.30am to 9pm Monday to Friday.