Mental health is a major issue for men in this country. Here are some startling statistics:
> 3 in every 4 suicides in Australia is a man.
> Today 6 men in Australia will take their own lives.
> Another 80 will need an ambulance due to attempting suicide or having suicidal thoughts.
> Aboriginal men are 40% more likely to die from suicide than non Aboriginal men.
> Suicide is the number one cause of premature death for men in Australia, killing more than cancer, heart disease and car accidents which all get much more public attention.
> Veterans commit suicide at much higher rates than the wider community.
This is an issue which does not receive anywhere near enough attention, or funding. We as a society cannot sit back and do nothing while 2000 men each year are dying at their own hand, with thousands more requiring hospitalisation.
The church also needs to step up and be a place which is safe for men (and women) to share their struggles with mental health issues. The leadership of the church need to be equipped and trained to support and refer people with mental health issues to appropriate professionals.
We especially need to be conscious of groups at higher risk, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who are 40% more likely to commit suicide than non Indigenous men*, and members of our ex-service/veteran community where we see veterans under 30 are twice as likely to commit suicide and those over 30 18% more likely.
As someone who fits all of these categories (Male, Aboriginal and a member of the ex-service community) this is an issue that hits close to home for me, even more so as I have my own mental health struggles and am being treated for depression.
We need to help men understand that it is not weakness to suffer mental health issues. If we aren't ashamed to tell people when we get any other form of illness outside our control, we should not feel shame about mental health issues.
If you know someone (especially someone from one of the groups discussed above) please check in on them - sometimes asking if someone is OK is the first step in saving a life.
Please also share these horrifying statistics, let people know that this is happening, write to your local member and call on them to advocate for more funding and more support for men's mental health.
If you need support please call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or
Lifeline on 13 11 14,
Members of the military and veteran community and their families can call Open Arms on 1800 011 046
if your or anyone else's life is in immediate danger please call 000
Beyond the Emergency - A national study of ambulance responses to men’s mental health
The Complex link between defence service and suicide
Creative Spirits - Aboriginal Suicide Rates
Daryl is a priest and chaplain living in regional New South Wales Australia. Learn more on the About page.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my church or any other organisation I am affiliated with.