These are shocking figures for the lucky country.
Suicide is four times more common in men than in women. It is alarming to think that 1600 of our boys take their own lives each year.
Many men make the decision to commit suicide very quickly that’s how the male brain works it evaluates a situation and then it sets out to find a solution quickly; to fix, to solve, to resolve the problem.
Add to this that our boys just don’t handle their emotions very well and can’t talk about what’s on their mind at the best of times with their friends, their partners, their wives.
The solution of suicide seems like a good option to them, especially at a time that they may be going through a turbulent time in their life. Suicide will put an end to all their pain and to life’s problems.
For these 1600 men the solution was to end it all and to do it fast without any warning to those who loved them.
What a tragic loss of life.
So how can we prevent this if there are little or no warning sign of what is going to happen? It is a difficult task but one that we must undertake if we are to change these terrible statistics.
As many men make the decision to commit suicide quickly it is essential that we can respond quickly to any warning signs that may be present.
Statistics tell us that the men who are most at risk are:
- Young or in their middle years 20-44 years old
- Men over 75 years
- Men living in rural or remote areas
- Men undergoing traumatic life events; relationship problems, separation from their children, unemployment, financial distress and social isolation. These events can lead to loss of self-esteem, shame, self-worth and guilt, which further increasing the risk of suicide.
- Men in prison or custody
- Men in indigenous communities
Factors that affect men’s emotional wellbeing
There are many factors that that can have a very negative effect on their emotional wellbeing and increase their risk of suicide these include:
- Isolation, loneliness, lack of social support; being there and being a friend is essential for these men at these times.
- Social exclusion; if you are in prison or in custody you have 3 times the risk of committing suicide as the general population.
- Work-related pressures, performance pressure, deadlines, budget expectations, job insecurity, increased workload under complex and ever-changing conditions.
- Work related injury and resulting disability.
- Relationship break down, divorce, loss of contact with family and children
- Financial and legal problems
- Chronic illness and pain
- Family history of suicide, or close friend or family member has committed suicide increase the risk for suicide
- Alcohol and drug abuse; one in three men who commit suicide are under the influence of alcohol or have used drugs to commit suicide.
- Mental illness, depression, psychotic illness and schizophrenia are a major risk for suicide.
Prevention of suicide in males
As a friend
Simply reaching out and offering a helping hand to a friend may be enough.Knowing that someone cares about them may change everything in a split second. The right word at the right time may mean the difference between wanting to live and wanting to die.
So if you think that your mate, partner, husband, work-colleague or someone you know is acting differently, is sad, not participating or they are just not right, ask them:
How are you feeling today?
Can I do anything to help?
This may be the only chance you get to save them and it may just be enough to allow them to open up and talk and share their feelings with you.
As a community
- Men are a special group; We need to become better at responding to men’s needs. As a community we need to recognise that men are a special group with different needs to their female counterparts.
- Positive approach; We need to take a positive approach. We must focus on the positives of health and concentrate on the management of stress, depression and staying mentally, physically and spiritually healthy.
- Value men; We must value our men and acknowledge their strengths their abilities and the vital role they play in the community and in the family unit
- Up-skilling men; We must give men the required skills when it comes to handling stress and depression, separation, work pressures; we must encourage men to talk freely and openly about their emotions and how they really feel about things in their life.
- Men need to network; Men need to be given the opportunity to chew the fat with each other a great initiative has been Mensheds Australia www.mensheds.com.au
- Health screening; We need to promote screening for men for depression and other mental and health illness.
If you know or recognise someone in your life who maybe at risk, do something about it offer your hand in friendship and get them the help they need.
We need our boys to stick around !!!
Helpful phone numbers:
Lifeline – 24 hour crisis counseling available across Australia: Ph.: 13 11 14
SANE Helpline – offers a wide range of information on mental illness and suicide prevention: Ph.: 1800 18 SANE (7236); www.sane.org