Government budget overlooks men say Suicide Prevention leaders
The lead organisation for suicide prevention in Australia has spoken out about the lack of action on male suicide prevention in last week’s Federal Budget.
According to Nieves Murray, CEO of the peak body Suicide Prevention Australia, the 2021 budget has been very positive for suicide prevention and mental health in general.
“The Government committed to a major investment in suicide prevention, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announcing $298 million towards suicide prevention,” said Murray.
“Perhaps most significantly, $12.8 million was allocated for the establishment of a National Suicide Prevention Office, which will be a keystone for much-needed reforms.”
Murray sounded a note of caution that, despite this significant investment, there are still some substantial gaps, particularly in relation to male suicide prevention.
“There was a disappointing lack of action on male suicide prevention," she said. "We have been advocating for a male suicide prevention strategy and we are disappointed that the budget has ignored this priority population. Sadly, males are around three times more likely to die by suicide than females.”
The case for a male suicide prevention strategy has been outlined by the Australian Men’s Health Forum in our report “Giving Men a Hand”.
The Prime Minister’s National Suicide Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan, has also called on all Governments in Australia to make preventing male suicide a priority.
With this in mind, Morgan’s final report to Government made two specific recommendations to drive work to prevent male suicide:
- The Commonwealth government should lead on identifying priority actions that leverage their government services and systems, such as employment services, family law courts, relationship services and aged care.
- All jurisdictions should review and report on the accessibility of their funded services and programs for men.
Advocating for action on male suicide
The Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF) has been highlighting the lack of funding for male suicide prevention for many years.
In 2016, AMHF released a report on male suicide which found that "the majority of time, money and energy invested in researching and preventing suicide fails to target male suicide".
More recently, in January 2020, AMHF CEO, Glen Poole noted that calls made by the PM's Adviser, Christine Morgan, to specifically target male suicide were not being backed by funding commitments.
“While we do not advocate for funding to be taken away from women at risk of suicide, most Australians will agree that blokes should be getting a fair share of the Government’s suicide prevention funding, that reflects the fact that 3 in 4 suicides are male,” he said.
In December 2020, following news that the number of male suicides rose in 2019 to a record 2,502 (up by more than 40% in the 10 years since 2009), AMHF launched the Save Aussie Men (SAM) campaign.
SAM is designed to encourage the public to send a personalised message to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Government, asking them to tackle male suicide head-on.
You can support Save Aussie Men and send a message about male suicide to the PM here: Save Aussie Men.