Men are a priority population for suicide prevention in Australia.
Suicide prevention efforts are needed to support men in all of their diversity.
Men may have other identity-driven needs and roles, which may overlap with other priority population groups, including:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- Culturally and linguistically diverse people
- Sexuality, gender, and bodily diverse communities
- People with disabilities
- People living in rural, regional, and remote locations
- Children and young people
- Older people.
What does the evidence tell us about suicide for men?
Of the over 3,000 lives lost to suicide each year, approximately 75% are men.
Statistics on male suicides are released annually by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In 2022:
- A total of 2,455 men died by suicide (18.8 deaths per 100,000 population), compared to 794 women (5.9 per 100,000).
- Men aged over 85 years had the highest male age-specific suicide rate, although accounted for the smallest proportion (2.9%) of male suicides.
- Men aged 45-49 had the highest rates of those aged under 80 years, and accounted for the largest proportion of male suicides (10.7%).
Three quarters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who died by suicide were male.
"The simple act of looking out for our mates and staying connected through community events such as sporting clubs, social groups and such is important, but being prepared to reach out to someone that you may be concerned about cannot be underestimated."
Factors that may increase risk of suicide
Identifying psychosocial risk factors can help direct attention to certain life experiences and guide effective suicide prevention interventions.
Factors that may increase risk of suicide in men may include:
- Personal history of self-harm
- Psychosocial risk factors
- Problems relating to other legal circumstances.
- Disappearance or death of a family member
- Problems relating to housing and economic circumstances
- Limitation of activity due to disability
- Absence of family member
- Threat of job loss.
Factors that protect against risk of suicide
Protective factors that can reduce the likelihood of suicidal behaviour for men include:
- Employment and financial security
- Being married (particularly for men from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds)
- Having strong personal relationships (particularly for young men and men over 65 years)
- Being responsible for children
- Restricted access to means (particularly firearms)
- Religious beliefs
- Cultural continuity, community empowerment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.
What does this mean for policy and practice?
A whole-of-government approach is needed to advance male suicide prevention.
Suicide Prevention Australia, in consultation with male suicide prevention experts, proposed four principles to guide strategy development and government action:
- Ensure supports respect and value men’s strengths
- Take a situational approach
- Support men in all their diversity
- Create with lived experience and informed by research and data.
A multitude of services, organisations, programs, research and resources which exist to support men and boys in the prevention of suicide and mental ill-health across the lifespan.
Sharing knowledge about current research into male mental health and suicide prevention can only help to contribute to putting male suicide prevention into the national spotlight.
Below is a collation of recent male suicide and mental health research articles, papers and research reports, to support building the evidence base around male suicide prevention policy:
- The Buoy project
- Preventing Suicide in Australian Men
- Under the Radar
- Untangling men’s depression and suicide
- Tackling the high incidence of suicide in working men
- Suicidal behaviours in men: Determinants and prevention in Australia
- MATES Resource Hub
Many organisations in the suicide prevention sector specifically target men or run programs that target them as a priority population.
This page was developed with the support of Dr Zac Seidler, Global Director of Men’s Health Research, Movember.