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Men ‘ignoring help’

Thursday, 25th July, 2013

By Erica Visser

Young men in country areas are at a far higher risk of suicide than any other group, a new survey has found.

One in five men aged under 25 felt that “life is hardly worth living” and one in 10 had contemplated suicide in the past year, according to the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.

The centre interviewed 1400 men aged 16 to 25 about mental illness and using technology to get help.

Lifeline spokesman John Mendel said it showed that men were still reluctant to seek help.

“We find that for people who die by suicide it’s a ratio of four to one, male to female,” he said.

“When it comes to men aged between 15 and 44, suicide is the leading cause of death.

“I think one of the reasons is the social norms in Australia. We have this, ‘She’ll be right mate’ sort of attitude.

“Young men tend to internalise their issues.”

But Mr Mendel said that things were improving with high profile men, such as Olympian swimmer Ian Thorpe, now speaking out about mental health issues.

“Seventy per cent of people who access Lifeline suicide prevention services are females... It’s definitely improving. About three or four years ago it was 80 per cent.

“There’s a normalisation around mental health issues that wasn’t there before.”

Mr Mendel said that online services attracted young men who would not normally get help over the phone or face-to-face.

Lifeline recently launched a counselling chat service online which operates from 8pm to 12am.

The hope is to eventually extend it to a 24-hour service for young people, Mr Mendel said.

“What Lifeline has found was that young people prefer to use an online medium to a person to person medium,” he said.

“It’s an online crisis chat that happens in a confidential online environment.

“We found when we piloted that service that the main users were young people in rural, remote and Indigenous communities and 58 per cent of these said that they wouldn’t use the phone service.”

The survey also indicated a link between unemployment and suicide among young men.

“I think that’s very important,” Mr Mendel said.

“Unemployment escalates people’s natural crisis cycle and I think that is particularly evident in rural locations where there are higher levels of unemployment.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you may call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au and click on the ‘Get Help’ button.

Other sites such as www.beyondblue.org and www.reachout.com are also available.

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