The main blind spot in suicide prevention is the lack of focus on working blokes according to a former CEO of the suicide charity, Lifeline.
Speaking on ABC’s Summer Drum last Friday 31 January, Pete Shmigel, now CEO of (the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), said:
“The main blind spot in suicide prevention at the moment is the hi vis guys are invisible, so 75 percent of suicides are by men but even when you break down the numbers that were announced this week, the $64 million, 75% of the recipients of the funding will be female.”
Shmigel, who was quick to point out that he fully supports funding for work with women at risk of suicide, warned against excluding men from prevention initiatives.
“In our appropriate march towards inclusivity, we shouldn’t be excluding some of the high-vis guys and regional guys who are really susceptible to this”, he added.
The ABC interview followed the Government’s announcement that it is investing $64 million in suicide prevention and mental health initiatives as an early response to initial advice from the National Suicide Prevention Adviser that represents “a dramatic reform of the national approach to suicide prevention”.
According to Shmigel, the announcement was the latest in a series of breakthrough.
“Suicide prevention is now a visible thing in our society. Five years ago, you and I and our guests wouldn’t have been having this conversation. So first of all we’ve made it visible,” he told the ABC’s Adam Spencer.
More importantly, Shmigel said that moves to reframe suicide as more than just a mental issue was a significant development in suicide prevention.
“The sensibility is shifting from a medical kind of take on suicide, to one that says not ‘what’s wrong with you, what’s your problem?’ but ‘what’s going on for you?’. While suicidality is sometimes linked to mental illness,” he said, “there’s a whole other category of humans who experience suicidality who do not have mental illness one of the things we have to be honest about is that suicidal thoughts can be part of the human condition”.
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