September 10, 2016 12:00am
Let’s talk about male suicide
On average, five men each day take their life through suicide in this country, according to World Suicide Prevention Australia. Read that again — five men, every day.
We must find ways to increase community awareness and start acknowledging the broad spectrum of social factors that contribute to suicide. (Pic: Getty)
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day: an international day to recognise the impact of suicide and importance of building more resilient, thoughtful communities.
The theme is “Connect, communicate, care”. Let’s be honest, we struggle to even achieve the first; division, discrimination and ugly gender warfare are so grossly dominant. If we’re serious about reducing suicide we really need to stop, think and unite in the goal of saving lives. Funds for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention must be prioritised.
Globally, the rate of suicide is alarmingly high, particularly in men, who often struggle in silence. The World Health Organization estimates more than 800,000 people die by suicide every year — that’s one person every 40 seconds. Latest figures show 2,864 Australians took their own life in 2014.
A new national report released by Suicide Prevention Australia explores the exposure to, and impact of, suicide in our community. It found 89 per cent of people knew someone who had attempted suicide and 85 per cent knew someone who had died by suicide.
We can’t ignore these heartbreaking findings. We must find ways to bring down barriers, increase community awareness, reach out with honesty, and start acknowledging the broad spectrum of social factors that contribute.
Mental illness is part of the distressing picture but it’s far from the only cause. People don’t just wake up and suddenly feel suicidal; it’s a sliding effect.
Let’s talk about men who weren’t allowed to see their children on Father’s Day. Let’s talk about economic worries after relationship breakdowns that spiral into substance abuse. Let’s talk about how that battle, in turn, causes people to lose their jobs, income, homes and support network of friends and family.
If we’re serious about reducing suicide, we unite in the goal of saving lives. (Pic: iStock)
“Without doubt, being denied access to their children plays a part,” Suicide Prevention Australia Board Director and Associate Professor Myfanwy Maple tells the Daily Telegraph. “Unless we take a whole community response to suicide, we aren’t going to make a change. Women attempt suicide more often than men, but men take more lethal measures. We have to intervene early. We don’t get another chance with men.”
It’s time to seriously consider the overwhelming impact of damaging anti-men messaging surrounding us. No cause justifies the blame game. We can be pro-women without bashing men; many have forgotten that.
“Social pressures have a huge impact on men,” says Maple. “Due to societal change over the last 50 to 60 years, men have lost their identity. They’re trying to work out where they fit in now. They don’t have a clear identity or status anymore. Jobs and relationships are more changeable. Pressure on men is very real and they’re less likely to say, ‘I need help’. Men don’t have good role models and we don’t have initiation ceremonies around growing from being a boy to a man that other cultures have. Men can feel lost.”
We all have a part to play in inspiring the positive ripples of hope. And we must start now.