In July 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his Government would make suicide prevention a key priority and appointed a National Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan, to drive a whole-of-government approach to tackling the issue.
“Suicide takes far too many Australians, devastating families and local communities,” Mr Morrison said. “One life lost to suicide is one too many, which is why my Government is working towards a zero suicide goal.”
The Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF) says preventing suicide among boys and men would go a long way towards achieving this goal.
On World Suicide Prevention Day 2020, AMHF, the peak body for men’s health, has published a report calling for a National Male Suicide Prevention Strategy.
While the report focuses on the need to prevent male suicide, work to prevent suicide should be gender inclusive and take into account the needs of women, girls and gender diverse people too.
Here are five reasons why we need a plan to prevent male suicide.
1. 3 in 4 suicides are male
Tackling male suicide could have a bigger impact on suicide rates than any other action. While reducing female suicide by a third would lead to an 8% reduction in suicide overall, reducing male suicide by a third would reduce suicide deaths by 25%.
2. Ignoring gender isn’t working
The mental health system and suicide prevention services reach more women than men. This ‘gender blind’ approach may sound fair and equitable, but doesn’t respond to the fact that the majority of suicides are men.
3. Men and women are different
Most suicide prevention work focuses on people with a mental health illness and people who have previously attempted suicide, rather than responding to common risk factors for men such as relationship problems, money issues, job loss and alcohol abuse.
4. We are not spending our money wisely
Every year the Government invests more than $5 billion into mental health services. The 2019-2020 budget allocated nearly $750 million to ‘mental health and suicide prevention’. The majority of the funding for suicide prevention in Australia is directed towards services that are known to be more effective at reaching men than women.
5. The plan is back by leaders in suicide prevention
Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for the suicide prevention sector, has called on the Government to ‘create a male suicide prevention strategy as a core stream within the national suicide prevention strategy, with funding and accountability attached to measures.’
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