The Duke of Cambridge has said society is not tackling the issue of male suicide “as quickly as necessary” when he opened the latest center of a charity that supports men in crisis.
Touring the new London branch of James’ Place with co-founder Clare Milford Haven, who created the service after her son James committed suicide at age 21, William met a 58-year-old father who said he owed his life. was for a good cause.
The Duke told Derek Wilson, 58, a Liverpool building inspector, and his wife Sarah Wilson: “We are not tackling the problem as quickly as we need to.”
Later, in an impromptu speech at the unveiling of a plaque to mark the opening, William said: “What strikes me most today is the idea that there is a solution, there is always a solution. I think that’s what the team made on me.
“Despite everyone feeling like this is the last thing they can do and take their own life – realizing there is a solution, I think that’s really important.
“I think sometimes men are so detailed that we forget about the bigger picture and we can get that little bit of support that can take them forward, and there’s hope and a better future than that.”
Mr Wilson candidly described how he struggled with his mental health but didn’t think he had “problems” although they were obvious to his wife, saying “I wouldn’t be here” without the support of Jane Boland, head of the Liverpool ward center of James’ Place.
He told William: “Of course I’ve tried to end my life – the pressure of work and things like that. I just went out one day and thought ‘you know what, everyone is better without me’.”
After being informed that there was a six-week waiting period for mental health services, a family friend told them about the charity whose centers in Liverpool and London have a homely feel and an innovative approach to dealing with clients.
The “put your cards on the table” system allows people who are in crisis due to a breakup, work problems or other problems to understand their thoughts and feelings by choosing cards with printed statements such as “how do I get through this” or words as “angry” or “caught”.
Mr Wilson said: “As soon as I walked through the door I felt the whole problem was gone and I would get the help I needed and I got it within 48 hours”, describing the use of the cards as his “light bulb” moment.
He told William he now has a few words on his phone that have helped him through some “wobbles” with his mental health – “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”.
James’ Place was founded in 2008 by James’ parents, Mrs Milford Haven and her ex-husband Nick Wentworth-Stanley after his suicide in 2006.
Ms Milford Haven, who is a distant relative of William through her second marriage, said her son had asked for help but had been unable to find the right support.
She said: “I wish there was a James’ Place for my James. I don’t believe my son wanted to die.”
William opened the organization’s first center in Liverpool in 2018. It has supported 800 men and a further 125 have been assisted by a temporary center in London since April 2021, which is now being replaced by the new facility near Old Street, close to the City of London.
With suicide as the leading cause of death for men under 50, the charity has set itself the ambitious goal of raising £10 million to open three more centers in the coming years.