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Every single life lost to suicide is one too many.

Filed under: Gender Politics,Men's Health,White Ribbon Campaign — MurrayBacon @ 10:14 pm Thu 24th December 2015

Target-setting is great for progress, but is it right for suicide prevention?
Alan Woodward
Mental health
What is the “right’ suicide prevention target? Does a target of 50% imply acceptance that in Australia 1300 people will die by suicide each year?

Setting targets has become commonplace as a way of measuring achievement and progress. We have seen this recently as the future ecology of our planet and the complexity of international policy on climate change has been reduced to negotiations around a series of targets.

It is as though the targets give meaning to the goal for change.

So surely we should set targets for suicide prevention, right? How better to concentrate efforts than to set targets for a reduction in the tragic loss of life to suicide? And surely setting targets is a way to communicate and engage with the wider community in results-based suicide prevention?

This has already started. In 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) promoted a target of 10% reduction in suicides by 2020 for member countries, of which Australia is one. Then, in 2014, the WHO released its first ever report on suicide documenting the key elements of any national strategy for suicide prevention, drawing on research evidence and expert opinion.

Some countries were ahead of this, such as Scotland which in 2002 set a target for a 20% reduction in suicide deaths by 2013. In fact, Scotland achieved an 18% reduction in this time period. Perhaps setting bold targets matched to an effective national suicide prevention strategy actually works.

Here Suicide Prevention Australia has recommended a target of 50% reduction in suicide deaths in 10 years, as an aspirational statement to galvanise support and action.

So far, the governments of Australia have declined to accept this recommendation, and it lies as an unresolved matter after more than 12 months of national review of suicide prevention and mental health programs.
Ethical issues also start to emerge when targets for suicide prevention are raised. Does a focus entirely on reducing deaths diminish our understanding and empathy with the profound despair and pain felt by suicidal persons – whether or not they actually attempt suicide or die?
When it comes to poverty reduction, the trend in international aid and development has been to recognise quality of life and wellbeing factors for vulnerable populations instead of simply calculating the prevention of deaths. Indexes on health, wellbeing and opportunity have been established as measures for success in poverty reduction. Programs seek to achieve outcomes that uphold dignity, self-determination and culture for those exposed to poverty, not just abrupt outcomes indicators of life-span and disease based death rates.
We should not admit to tolerating any loss of life to suicide, nor should we neglect to provide the very best compassion, support and recovery care for those who come to the dark place which suggests death is better than living. All our effort, our programs, our government suicide prevention strategies, our community action should then be measured up against the contribution made towards this target. Our measurement systems then could be associated with celebrating each and every step towards the end result.

Such a stance would reflect the comment from Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, when introducing the international report on suicide: “Every single life lost to suicide is one too many.”
mcb comment:
Unlike the manipulative White Ribbon campaigners, Dr. Margaret Chan expressed care for men, as much as for women.
I wonder why?
(Clarification: I, Murray Bacon, do support euthenasia, which is a close parallel to suicide. So great care needs to be taken when discussing these topics.)


  1. Remember the female teacher who committed suicide after an affair with a student.

    Seen the Coroner’s report on that?

    The relevant post was ordered off this site by said Coroner.

    Comment by Downunder — Fri 25th December 2015 @ 5:36 am

  2. Prevention is notoriously difficult to “Prevent” My own strategy, While it is being threatened use distraction Techniques!

    Only yesterday we had 3deaths on our rail corridor. Was it deliberate or accidental.?

    I suggest we need more family support, and more investigation into single person accidents. For Middle age men, to loose a career, family, dramatic change, they find it hard to cope. A rea option becomes suicide. Instead of “Fell asleep at the wheel” a deeper investigation is needed than the fob off!

    Comment by Alastair — Fri 25th December 2015 @ 7:35 am

  3. Yes Alistair .The loss of career,family and the dramatic change that comes with it is a major hurdle for more and more men.
    I am not in to blame but I believe the current legislation is playing a major role in tipping the balance.People react differently to situations but those genuine guys who hit that wall hard need to be helped over.
    Having targets is no solution.
    Understanding what is going on is what is needed.

    Comment by allan — Fri 25th December 2015 @ 8:12 am

  4. Understanding what is going on is what is needed.

    There’s only one thing that needs to be understood. Politicians are no longer about making laws, they’ve become about sneaking policies, and getting elected.

    That is why you won’t see change.

    Comment by Downunder — Fri 25th December 2015 @ 8:21 am

  5. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

    It is worrying how the official discussion of suicide is produced by hospital based researchers, who show interest in young people’s suicides, but otherwise very little interest in deaths that occur outside of hospitals (ie most suicide deaths!). In other words, 70% of suicides are outside of their interest.

    In practical terms, schools have taken the lead in addressing suicide, mainly by teaching positive mental health – ie support the people around you, show courtesy and care. In a nutshell, proactively treat others as you would have them treat you. (Perhaps the opposite of what goes on in familycaught$, under cover of secrecy for rogues? The Lord helps those, who help themselves to other people’s money.)

    Latest Suicide Rates Bad and Still Covered Up

    Ministry of Health Suicide Report Neglects Men

    The discussion on suicide in NZ

    2014 suicide figures released

    So the forces that drive men’s suicides appear to be running on, with no attempt to adjust Government policies to avoid driving suicides. This is quite astonishing, when the total loss of living and life is considered, as the impacts are far wider than the single life ostensibly thrown away.

    The failure to address the suicide impacts of Government policies, reflects the general failure to improve the quality of Government social policies.

    Although analysis tools have improved dramatically in the last 25 years, they are not being used to look holisticly at the full set of impacts of proposed social policies onto outcomes. This professional failure on the part of politicians, has led to severe underfunding of social policy analysts in NZ, at great long term cost to society. The underfunding has meant that the employee social policy analysts haven’t had the opportunity to do their job properly.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sat 26th December 2015 @ 9:00 pm

  6. I think it is a bit like unemployment, Murray – 5% is considered a good OECD average, we just haven’t heard what the acceptable level of male suicide is yet.

    Comment by Downunder — Sat 26th December 2015 @ 9:28 pm

  7. Well its new year and time to reflect and give thanks, make plans, also a time to shake hands and start fresh.
    So thank you JP for providing a forum for NZ men to discuss our issue’s and debate solutions to our problems.
    I’m not a paid subscriber so I also thank those who have been paying towards this forum.
    This year hasn’t been a good year for men’s rights although I feel that men’s issues have gained some traction.
    I give my thanks to Murray Bacon, and others that have replied to my emails and given me encouragement to stay a course fraught with discipline for those that believe. I thank Wayne Burrows who’s achievements however small geographically, will become the new beginnings of men’s rights post 2000, even though I cant thank enough those from the UOF days and all they have done.
    These days its about ‘Johnny on the spot’ and Wayne Burrows has my quite achiever award.

    I give my thanks to all men that have shared experiences that have hurt them, and I understand that typing those words into a little white box on a screen is difficult considering that we are not all poets able to convey feelings and emotion.
    I think of other fathers, especially at this time of year who are unable to share sunny days this season being appreciated dads. And I congratulate and admire fathers that are successful fathers doing as we all might have done or should have, could have, as we all feel.
    I think of men sitting still in prison cells who’s words are considered by our society to be unworthy of hearing.
    I think of sons and daughters who have such little understanding of why their Fathers are unable to be part of their lives.
    I am sad for my loss and for those who have lost unfairly so next year I will keep trying take part in bringing awareness to the importance of fathers roles in the lives of children and the justice that is frequently unavailable to Dads and men who are in limbo, ie accused men.
    This year I have had no personal success.
    My family is all camping together in a nice place up north, I am typing words into a little white box again.
    This year I suspect that thinking globally and acting locally is my best chance.
    I aim to give more support to Ministry for men and I have been invited to publicly apply pressure to Canturbury Mens Centre to explain just what the hell is going on.
    I complain regularly at my police station and I will continue to complain taking whatever courage I can muster for the day.
    I wish you all a successful and happy new year.
    So many times I write my thoughts into this little white box and then reflect and disregard my thoughts and accept its all our faults somehow.
    Not today. Not next year either.

    Lets not go out with a whimper.

    I hope many men in 2016 will not relinquish to those who consider us irrelevant.

    Comment by voices back from the bush — Thu 31st December 2015 @ 6:48 pm

  8. Another great post, hang on , our care for wellbeing government just denied this (suicide reduction target) as a necessity, however looking into the suicide of construction workers here is a good thing, I wonder what they will discover, I wonder if these findings will be transparent.

    …and how did Scotland achieve what it did in their suicide rate I wonder?

    Comment by mama — Fri 14th June 2019 @ 12:43 pm

  9. It looked like this..

    Scottish Government Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013-16
    Areas for action in the Suicide Prevention Strategy
    The Strategy to reduce suicide focuses on five key themes of work in communities and in services and we make 11 commitments that will continue the downward trend in suicides and contribute to the delivery of the National Outcome to enable people to live longer, healthier lives. The key themes are:

    A Responding to people in distress
    B Talking about suicide
    C Improving the NHS response to suicide
    D Developing the evidence base
    E Supporting change and improvement

    AD 4
    “Huge ask” – a public health and a political issue. Unique issues re rural and remote
    isolation, esp. re fuel poverty, homelessness, minority groups, language barriers.
    Be more targeted – e.g. men – where are the areas of interest – Links to Men’s
    Health work/groups. Where do majority of our men work – isolated, rural areas – can
    we tackle that direct? Link to Healthy Working Lives.

    Comment by mama — Fri 14th June 2019 @ 1:51 pm

  10. You don’t have to go back far to the post war era where suicide was a very thing.

    If it did occur the reasons were obvious.

    There’s only one target here. 0 zero nought nothing zilch.

    Which is hopeful thinking and without euthanasia that might not be possible.

    If we can’t get back to post war numbers we have not identified and dealt with the issues that confront men.

    Comment by Boonie — Fri 14th June 2019 @ 1:56 pm

  11. That should be *rare thing

    Comment by Boonie — Fri 14th June 2019 @ 1:57 pm

  12. ,,, we have not identified and dealt with the issues that confront men.

    As a country we have not, it has obviously gone unaddressed otherwise the numbers would not have gotten so large, the Men’s groups could see things others couldn’t see, they grew around these problems, no one at the top was looking? People on the ground were blind or not seeing.
    Suicide is so secretive.

    Comment by mama — Fri 14th June 2019 @ 2:16 pm

  13. “no one at the top was looking”

    No. You’re excusing people that deserve nothing more than a bullet in head and a hole in the ground.

    Comment by Downunder — Fri 14th June 2019 @ 2:31 pm

  14. Thank you… holy shit,,, this has been so so ugly.

    Comment by mama — Fri 14th June 2019 @ 2:37 pm

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