Thank you for your Winter 2013 newsletter, a good idea for maintaining communication. While I commend the various initiatives described in the newsletter, I was seriously concerned that there was no mention that suicide is primarily a male issue because men as a group kill themselves at several times the rate for any other group. Similarly, I was concerned that although your organisation runs programmes specifically directed towards the needs of youth and Maori, and it would seem by the gender composition of your trainers that women’s perspective and needs regarding suicide will also be generously catered for, there was no mention of any approach tailored specifically for men who are the group most in need. There was no hint of any effort by your organisation to identify or address the factors contributing to men’s high suicide rate. We believe that longstanding attitudes that have always treated men’s welfare as less important, as well as more recent trends that have seen blaming, denigration and sexist discrimination against men being widely tolerated, are important factors in the current epidemic of male suicide.
The Ministry of Men’s Affairs regrets that your organisation has followed the lead provided by the Ministry of Health in denying the extent to which suicide is primarily a male problem deserving male-specific intervention. See the essay at http://menz.org.nz/2010/men-devalued-in-suicide-strategy/ and our letter to the Minister of Health at http://menz.org.nz/2012/ministry-of-health-suicide-report-neglects-men/
We recommend that your organisation give priority to research and intervention designed to be effective for men, and that the level of priority and ratio of your activities and resources devoted to male-specific intervention accurately reflect the predominance of men in suicide statistics.
The Ministry of Men’s Affairs is a community group because successive NZ governments have failed to respect the voice, welfare or interests of men.