An article on the BBC website explores why more men suicide than women, provides another interesting look at the issue, though there are some useful additions that can be made.
Relationship breakdown is one of the most significant factors in male suicide, accounting for about 25% of male suicides in Australia. We know that this also correlates strongly with a loss of access to children, and there is strong anecdotal evidence that the risk for men who get appropriate support through that breakdown and loss of access to their children, does drop significantly. Parents Beyond Breakup run an excellent program, now available in Hobart and Launceston, that provides such support to men.
It's time we move past the simplistic idea that men don't talk and they don't seek help. As with many things, there is truth there, but there's more to it. Men do talk, when given the right environment and context in which to do so. In my experience when the environment is safe, it can be difficult to shut them up. We need to create environments and contexts that seek to engage men in ways that appeal to them, that work with the strengths of their psychology and character. As we know from the men's shed movement, shoulder to shoulder conversation can be more appealing to men. Perhaps this suggests a walk in the park, rather talk across the counselling table might work better for some?
The article cites Mates in Construction whose programs work because they change the culture. Not only do they encourage men to share things of a personal nature, they also make it important for others to do the asking. The more significant culture change is the creation of a more supportive workplace, where people check in on each other. Colleagues know what is happening in each other's lives and can ask, genuinely, how someone is travelling. The emphasis is not on the man to change, to talk more, to seek help, but rather on the people around him, and well designed male-friendly services to support him through those challenging times and to connect him with professional help when it is needed.
In Tasmania, OzHelp Tasmania offers similar programs and services in various trades and worksites. Mates4Mates is also meeting returned services people in ways, contexts and with the language that appeals to their client group.
Men's Resources Tasmania can talk to your organisation about how you can create male-friendly services.
Don't forget that support is available if you, or someone you know is struggling with issues around suicide. Visit the Urgent Assistance page on the MRT website for contacts.
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78
What a great article in the Sydney Morning Herald on the weekend.
“I don’t think that suicide should be viewed as a purely psychiatric issue. The idea that suicide is always the consequence of a definable mental illness continues to dominate the public consciousness despite a growing consensus among the academic community that there is much more at play.”
Situational Distress is the term being applied to looking at suicide from a broader perspective than purely mental health. Programs like Dads in Distress (now an organisation called Parents Beyond Breakup (PBB) provide one critical way to see the issue outside of a mental health paradigm. Research shows relationship breakdown is a factor in about 25% of male suicides.
Men’s Resources Tas is working with others including Primary Health Tasmania to bring some key people to Tas in hopefully late June, to run a forum on working with men with these issues and perspectives. We'd like to see PBB establishing a foothold here in Tassie. These groups are volunteer run and essentially operate through men who have been through relationship breakdown and possibly lost access to children for some time, being facilitators.
Prior to that the Tas Suicide Prevention Community Network of which I am a part are also bringing Zac Siedler – an academic and psychologist who established Man Island, amongst others to the Tas Suicide Prevention Forum in May. His focus is on engaging men.
There is a program running through the network of Neighbourhood Houses, called SuicideTALK. This is a 90 minute chat aimed at just starting those conversations, breaking down the stigma, giving people the vocabulary to talk about suicide in a constructive way. To date the sessions have had largely women attending, and we are keen to try the talks in more male dominated spaces. Dates are available here, and it would be great to see others come along – just register with the House. If anyone would like a talk in your workplace get in touch, we can probably arrange it – not for free, but it doesn’t need to cost a lot.
If this post has raised any difficult thoughts or emotions for you, help is available at:
Lifeline 131 114
MensLine 1300 789 978
Beyondblue 1300 224 636
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
The Canberra Times published an interesting article drawing attention to a recent release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, pointing to people who seek assistance from medical services or medication through the PBS having poorer death, have higher death rates than people seeking assistance for [physical health problems. The article cites the higher rates for men, and when you go to the ABS data, and look a little closer the findings are actually even worse for men 15-74. The articles cites rates for the whole population. The ABS report separates the data from Total Population to 15-74 year olds because of the likelihood of high rates of people dieing over 74 skewing the data.
These three interesting points are from the above ABS page:
An ANU study has found that many children think their dads work too much.