Flat White

The question no politician wants to face about suicide

9 September 2019

11:24 AM

9 September 2019

11:24 AM

World Suicide Prevention Day 2019 is tomorrow, September 10.

In theory, it should provide an opportunity to raise honest awareness around the issue, and shine a light on what action we can take to drive the number of suicides down.

However, no politician seems to want to face up the truth about soaring rates of male suicide. Deaths from suicide occur at a rate three times higher in men than that of females.

It seems no one has quite worked out how male suicide fits with the popular narrative around the power of the “patriarchy” or supposed “male privilege”.

As always, there will be talk about marginalised groups, age demographics and chatter about action plans.

This year, there’s lots of conversation about youth suicide, despite statistics showing this is only a small percentage of the problem.

Unfortunately, it’s mostly virtue signalling noise.

Is the truth too hard to contemplate?

Honestly, what chance is there of fixing the real problem if we’re too scared of facing up to the truth?

What there won’t be is discussion around the latest ABS data. Figures from 2017 show very clearly what factors are contributing to the soaring suicide rates.

The published ABS statistics list the most frequently occurring psychosocial risk factors in coroner-certified deaths in Australia. Top of the list is a personal history of self-harm, followed by disruption of family by separation and divorce, and then problems relating to legal circumstances.

So, in light of this, why on earth is society dragging its heels in acknowledging the impact of family law and custody disputes on the heartbreaking suicide rate?

And, if we seriously want to help in driving down these troubling suicide statistics, why are we so afraid of confronting the societal factors contributing to people’s struggles?

Maybe this World Suicide Prevention Day should be a day where we stand up for the truth rather than nodding our compliance to another missed opportunity to actually make a difference.

If you or anyone you know needs help please contact the MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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