AUSTRALIA’S peak body for men’s health warns of an increased risk to male suicides if isolation is not carefully managed.
While the Australian Men’s Health Forum supports social isolation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it says isolation needs to be carefully managed to avoid these risks, especially among vulnerable men, such as older men in poor health, men who lose their jobs and livelihood and men with fewer social connections, including dads separated from their children.
The forum’s CEO Glen Poole says: “We support the government’s decisive action to save as many lives as we can from coronavirus and this needs to be balanced with innovative action to save more lives from suicides linked to isolation and financial distress in the coming months.”
“Our immediate concern is for older men who have a higher rate of suicide than any other age group. Support services like men’s sheds are closing their doors and older men are becoming more isolated in the process,” he says.
Mr Poole also warns that increased social isolation is a risk factor for suicide in men of all ages.
“Research shows men are less likely to have strong social networks than women, though this has been changing steadily with hundreds of local men’s groups launching in recent years,” he says.
“Most of these groups have had to closed in the past fortnight because of coronavirus, leaving men at risk of suicide more socially isolated.
“What we need right now is government support to help us get the men’s health sector online and working together to save men’s lives today.”
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, and for emergencies call 000.