The resources we invest in suicide prevention need to take account of the differences between men and women, according to Australia’s peak body for men’s health, the Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF).
The call for “gender inclusive” suicide prevention strategies comes as Government figures revealed that the number of men and women taking their own lives in Australia rose by nearly 10% in 2017.
Suicide now kills more than 8 Australians a day, taking the lives of more than 6 men and 2 women a day on average, but most of the resources targeted at suicide prevention ignore significant differences between male suicide and female suicide, according to AMHF.
Glen Poole, Development Officer at Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF) said:
“We invest a huge amount of resource into suicide prevention in Australia, not just Government funding, but also across the private and not-for-profit sector.
“Yet there is very little attention paid to ensuring these resources take into account the key differences between male suicide and female suicide.
“Most suicide prevention programs favour "gender neutral" approaches which may appear egalitarian, but tend to be more effective at helping women than helping men, who account for 3 out of 4 suicides.
“With suicide killing six men and two women every day, we need more "gender inclusive" approaches that take into account the different needs of men and women at risk of suicide.
“Our work on male-friendly approaches to suicide prevention has identified 10 different ways that policy-makers and practitioners can develop ‘gender inclusive’ approaches that take account the differences between male suicide and female suicide.
“Our recommendations place a specific emphasis on male suicide, as our organisation is focused on the social factors that shape men and boys’ health, but we also recognise the need for more effective approaches to preventing female suicide too”.
One of the key recommendations that AMHF makes, is that funders and commissioners should assess the different levels of impact that the resources they invest will have on men and women, to ensure there is an equitable balance of male-friendly and female-friendly approaches to suicide prevention.
10 RECOMMENDATIONS TO MAKE SUICIDE PREVENTION MORE MALE-FRIENDLY
- Ensure an equitable balance of male-friendly and female-friendly approaches
- Renew the National Male Health Policy and ensure it focuses on male suicide
- Shift focus from suicide as a mental health issue and place more focus on the situational factors that increase men’s risk of suicide
- Undertake gender impact assessments when funding and commissioning suicide prevention
- Promote “male suicide literacy” and ensure those working in suicide prevention are aware of the different needs of men and women at risk of suicide
- Promote gender diversity in the suicide prevention sector and take action to get more male workers and volunteers involved
- Take account of the different needs of men and women in all their diversity
- Ensure research into suicide prevention addresses gender differences
- Harness the knowledge of the men’s health sector and build the capacity of organisations already working with men and boys
- Develop male-friendly leadership in suicide prevention and ensure advocates for men and boys are involved in leadership positions
FIVE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MALE SUICIDE AND FEMALE SUICIDE
- Gender Suicide Gap: Suicide kills 3 times more men than women
- Mental Health: Most women who die by suicide have a mental health diagnosis, most men who die by suicide do not have a mental health diagnosis. Approaches that focus on mental health may be more likely to reach women at risk.
- Situational Factors: Male suicide is more likely to be linked to situational factors such as relationship issues, work-related distress and financial issues. Approaches that focus on situational risks may be more likely to reach men at risk.
- First Attempters: Most men who die by suicide do so at the first known attempt, most women do not. Programs focused on those who’ve made previous suicide attempts are more likely to reach women at risk.
- Male Distress: research suggests that men may experience, express and cope with distress in different ways to women and that services need to adapt and respond to these differences.
- Take Action: Four Ways You Can Help Us Tackle Male Suicide (AMHF)
- News Article: Male Suicides Up 10% In 2017 (AMHF)
- #KnowYourManFacts: Male Suicide Fact Sheet (AMHF)
- Position Paper:The Need For Male Friendly Approaches To Suicide Prevention In Australia (AMHF)
- Presentation: How To Develop A Male-Friendly Approach To Suicide Prevention (AMHF)