Preventing Male Suicide

Suicide kills six men a day in Australia and is the leading killer of men and boys under 45. While men account for 75.7% of all suicides, the majority of time, money and energy invested in researching and preventing suicide in Australia, fails to target male suicide as a specific issue.

Male suicide has increased by 41% in the past decade from 1624 deaths a year in 2006 to 2292 suicides in 2015. Yet research suggests that most suicide prevention strategies are more effective at preventing female suicide than male suicide.

Each suicide is estimated to cost the economy $6million. Based on this figure, male suicide costs the economy an estimated $13.75billion a year. If male suicide was the same level as female suicide, we would save the lives of more than 1500 Australian men a year and save the economy an estimated annual $9.3billion.

Suicide is generally presented as a mental health issue, yet the majority of male suicides are not linked with a mental health diagnosis. According to the Queensland Suicide Register (QSR), while nearly two-thirds (63.6%) of women who take their own lives have at least one psychiatric disorder, less than half of men (44.4%) who die by suicide, have a psychiatric disorder.

These figures suggest that while people with mental health issues who take their own lives are twice as likely to be male, people who die by suicide, but don’t have a mental health issue, are nearly five times more likely to be male. According to the QSR, the situational factors that are most commonly associated with male suicide are:

  • Relationship Separation (28.3%)
  • Financial Problems (17%)
  • Relationship Conflict (15.7%)
  • Bereavement (12.3%)
  • Recent or pending unemployment (10.5%)

When compared to female suicide, male suicide is:

  • 12 times more likely to be linked to financial problems
  • 8 to 9 times more likely to be linked to pending legal matters
  • 5 times more likely to be linked to recent or pending unemployment
  • 4 to 5 times more likely to be linked to problems at work or school
  • 4 times more likely to be linked to child custody disputes

Suicide kills eight people a day in Australia, six men and two women. It is vital that we address the gendered nature of suicide and ensure there is an equitable balance of male-friendly and female-friendly approaches to suicide prevention that responds to the fact that three-quarters of suicides are male.

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