It’s Time to Act on Male Suicide in Australia, says AMHF
The Australian Men’s Health Forum today called on Government to send a message to men who are struggling and at risk of suicide by developing a male suicide prevention plan.
“The very act of saying we are specifically focused on male suicide is a good start,” said AMHF CEO Glen Poole at the launch of Time To Act on Male Suicide in Australia.
“Having a plan sends a signal,” he said.
“It’s a signal from the top of government that says, we care about this issue.”
While $1.8b of Government funding in 2022 was allocated to mental health and suicide prevention, most funding was directed at services that reached more women than men.
Men are not called out as a priority population and male suicide is not named as an issue of concern in emerging national policies such as the Gender Equality Strategy or the Measuring What Matters wellbeing framework, said Poole.
Meanwhile suicide remains a serious issue for men in Australia and a leading killer of men under 55. Six men a day die by suicide and the overall male suicide rate has increased by 30% in the last decade.
While there was a dip during the COVID-19 pandemic, Poole said: “All the strong evidence coming out of NSW and Victoria suggest the figures for 2022 will be the highest numbers …. closer to 7 males suicides a day.”
Every day, 50 men in Australia die from a preventable cause, including suicide. But while other causes of male death were more broadly going down, male suicide remained static, Poole said, describing suicide as “a stubborn social problem we have not been able to make a significant dent in.”
AMHF is calling for a male suicide prevention plan that will target funding specifically at services that effectively reach men. Poole said it was “morally and ethically wrong” to blame men in distress for not accessing existing services.
“We want a shift in the way we approach male suicide. How we attribute funding is one of the mechanisms we need to look at.”
Poole noted that the pathways to suicide were different for men and women, with men typically responding to situational factors like money problems, relationship breakdown and legal issues and women’s suicide more likely to be linked to a mental health diagnosis.
He said the damaging and popular narrative that men don’t seek help was stigmatising for men in distress and not backed up by data.
On the contrary, many Australian men who die by suicide have sought help before their death.
“It is no good pushing more men into services that are not equipped to respond to their needs,” he said.
A national survey conducted by Resolve researchers for AMHF showed that there was strong public support among men and women for Governments to address men’s issues.
A male suicide prevention plan might start by analysing who is accessing services and what is going to stop six men a day in Australia take their lives.
The Time to Act on Male Suicide in Australia campaign invites people to send a message to the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, calling for an action plan to prevent male suicide in Australia.
Supporters are also invited to download and share key statistics pertaining to male suicide in Australia and to read the latest report from AMHF on male suicide in Australia.
The Launch of the Time to Act on Male Suicide in Australia took place on 27 June 2023. A recording of the launch will be available on the Men's Health Connected website.