Health & wellbeing

The number of young men calling MIELI ry's Crisis Helpline with concrete suicide plans has more than doubled this spring compared to early 2020. Additionally, thoughts of self-harm, anxiety, depression, and fears have also increased among this group. Mental health organization MIELI ry has observed a growing sense of distress among young men, which is a cause for concern.

During the first few months of this year, the number of young men with concrete suicide plans has more than doubled compared to spring 2020. From January to May of this year, 37 young men who reached out to the Crisis Helpline had specific suicide plans, compared to 17 individuals three years ago. Additionally, this group reported an increase in self-harming thoughts, depression, anxiety, and fears.

"It is concerning that many young men reaching out to the Crisis Helpline often lack hope for the future and the belief that they can bring about change in their challenges. Many feel that everything is hopeless and that nothing can be done. It is positive to see that young men are seeking conversation-based support," says Susanna Winter, Head of Phone and Online Crisis Services.

Previously, young women made more calls to the Crisis Helpline. However, the contacts from young women have decreased by a quarter compared to last year. The most common reasons for young individuals to call the helpline are feelings of distress, relationship issues, and self-harm.

Winter points out that many young men face a range of challenges, including educational difficulties, unemployment, substance abuse, mental health issues, and financial problems. These challenges can be accompanied by relationship breakdowns or a complete lack of intimate partnerships. Moreover, the male callers to the Crisis Helpline often experience feelings of loneliness, exclusion, or even gambling problems. Some may have experienced bullying, parental divorce, or a lack of parental support.

"More often than women, young male callers feel that they lack a social network to provide support in difficult situations. Additionally, the threshold for discussing life challenges with loved ones and seeking help is higher for men, regardless of age," Winter explains.

The number of calls made by individuals under 30 to MIELI ry's Crisis Helpline surged at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Young people continue to reach out, with over 10,000 annual calls, accounting for approximately 15% of all conversations. However, this spring, the number of young people's calls has decreased, by more than a quarter for women and eight percent for men.

The total number of calls received continues to rise. From January to May 2023, the Crisis Helpline received a total of 167,094 attempted calls, with over 35,300 calls answered.

Winter emphasizes that the majority of callers feel heard, understood, and experience an improvement in their well-being after a conversation. This year, approximately 770 individuals have stated that they do not intend to commit suicide or harm themselves.

"In difficult situations, it is crucial to receive prompt conversation-based support. That is why the Crisis Helpline is available throughout the summer. Thanks to donations, we have been able to hire additional crisis workers to answer more calls at the Crisis Helpline," Winter states.

MIELI ry's Crisis Helpline can be reached in Finnish 24/7 at 09 2525 0111. The helpline also offers conversation support in six languages: Swedish, English, Arabic, Russian, and Ukrainian. Language lines are available for 20 hours per week. Additionally, the Solmussa chat operates normally throughout the summer, from Monday to Wednesday, 3-7 PM, and on Thursdays from 3-9 PM.