Closing the gender suicide gap would save more than 1,500 men’s lives

Australia’s suicide prevention strategies are failing to stop male suicide which is now costing the economy $13.75B a year and killing nearly 200 men a month, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) published this week (28th September 2016).

Suicide kills six men a day in Australia, with the economic value of each life lost estimated at $6m, but the money being spent on suicide prevention is not being effectively targeted at men, claims Glen Poole, founder of the Stop Male Suicide project and author of a new book You Can Stop Male Suicide.

Focusing funding on closing the gender suicide gap and reducing male suicide to the level of female suicide, could save the lives of more than 1,500 Australian men a year and save the economy $9.3B, he argues.

The number of male suicides has risen by 41% in the past decade from 1,624 in 2006 to 2,292, with men accounting for 75.7% of all suicides.

According to the ABS, suicide is the leading cause of death with the largest sex ratios. For every 100 female suicides there are now 312 male suicides.

Glen Poole of the Stop Male Suicide project said:

“Suicide is killing three times more men and boys, than women and girls. Yet research shows that women are more likely than men to benefit from all of the main strategies used to prevent suicide. Even the most sophisticated strategies, backed by millions of dollars of funding, fail to consider whether the approach they are taking will help men.”

In his book, “You Can Stop Male Suicide”, Poole outlines three specific strategies that could help stop male suicide in Australia, saving hundreds of lives and billions of dollars in the process.

The first strategy that Poole proposes is “tackling men’s issues”.

“Male suicide is a solution-based behaviour that some men turn to, when dealing with problems they can neither fix, nor cope with,” says Poole. “There are a number of social issues that are known to have a disproportionate impact on men and increase their risk of suicide, such as relationship problems, unemployment and alcohol disorders. Putting more time, money and energy into addressing these ‘men’s issues’, will help stop male suicide.”

The second strategy detailed in the book is ‘helping men get help’. Poole says:

“We need to bust the myth that ‘men don’t get help’ and challenge the belief that ‘women HAVE problems and men ARE problems’. We know that if we change the way we give help to men, we increase the number of men who get help. The next generation of Australian children deserve to grow up in a big-hearted, open-minded country that is smart enough to tackle the problems that men and boys have, in addition to, not in opposition to, the problems that women and girls have.”

The final strategy Poole’s book outlines is “taking a gendered approach to suicide prevention”:

“We can’t hope to stop male suicide, if we don’t consider the specific needs of men and boys.

There is some excellent suicide prevention training available in Australia, for example, and one thing that is almost entirely missing from all of this training, is any kind of focus on male suicide prevention. Suicide is killing more than 2,000 men a year in Australia. We can’t hope to tackle this problem unless we take action to increase male suicide literacy and give people specific training in how to stop male suicide.”


  1. According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2015, 3,027 people died by suicide. Of these 2,292 (75.7%) were male and 735 (24.3%) were female.
  1. The Breaking The Silence Report (a seminal report from Lifeline Australia; Inspire Foundation; OzHelp Australia; Centre for Mental Health Research, ANU; Suicide Prevention Australia; The Salvation Army and The Brain Mind Research Institute;) estimated the cost to the economy of each life lost to suicide at $6m using a figure called the Value of a Statistic Life (VoSL). Based on this figure, the annual cost of to the economy of male suicide in 2015 approximately $13.75B and the cost to the economy of female suicide was $4.41B
  1. In 2014 the annual Gender Suicide Gap (the statistical difference between male and female suicide) was 1,557 lives lost and $9.34B in terms of the cost to the economy.
  1. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, suicide has the largest sex ratio within the Top 20 leading causes of death in Australia in 2015 (excluding sex-specific causes such as prostate and breast cancer). Intentional self-harm was the cause most likely to affect males, with 312 male deaths for every 100 female deaths.

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