Suicide killed a record number of people in Australia in 2019 according to data released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics today (Friday 23 October 2020).
The figures released today pre-date the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of male suicides in 2019 rose to a record 2,502, up by more than 40% in the 10 years since 2009, when 1,749 men died by suicide.
Suicide now kills 9 people a day in Australia, with 7 being male and 2 being female (on average).
The number of Australians who took their own lives last year rose above 3,000 people for only the fourth time on record. In total, 3,318 people killed themselves in 2019, with 75.4% (2,502) being male and 24.6% (816) being female.
The number of female deaths was the second highest on record, down from the previous high of 835 recorded in 2017.
Glen Poole, CEO of the Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF), said:
“Suicide killed more men in 2019 than at any time in our history. Closing the gap between male suicide and female suicide would save nearly 1,700 lives a year. Yet most work to prevent suicide ignores the differences between men and women and most suicide prevention funding supports services that are better at preventing female suicide.
The Morrison government has set itself an ambitious target of working towards a zero suicide goal. Taking specific action to prevent male suicide would go further than any other approach to achieving this goal.
“We know that men’s and women’s experiences of suicide are different. Male suicides are more often associated with relationship problems, money issues, job loss and alcohol abuse, whereas female suicides are more likely to be linked to mental illness and previous suicide attempts.
CALL FOR A NATIONAL PLAN
“We need a national plan to ensure that funding is specifically targeted at services designed with men in mind. We also need more men to be part of the solution.
“For too long, women have shouldered the burden of working to prevent male suicide.The time has come to give more men a hand to step up and get involved in male suicide prevention.”
Last month, on World Suicide Prevention Day, AMHF published a report outlining the case for a National Male Suicide Prevention strategy.
The report highlights advice given to the Prime Minister by the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan, which argued that men are one of the groups “known to be more vulnerable to suicide and providing effective approaches to suicide prevention for them is a priority”.
A call to tackle male suicide has also been made by Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA), the national peak body for the suicide prevention sector. In March this year, SPA asked the Government to adopt “a male suicide prevention strategy as a core stream within the national suicide prevention strategy, with funding and accountability attached to measures”.