World Suicide Prevention Day and Separating Fathers

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Its an important day in our diary because we are a suicide prevention support charity and our focus is supporting dads at risk of suicide.

We need to continue shining a light on suicide prevention to help save lives. By talking about it, we can start to share our knowledge. By sharing our knowledge, we can work together towards a world without suicide. Working together to prevent suicide, raise awareness and encourage conversations is important.

This Sunday just gone, Fathers Day 6th September 2020, we celebrated our 21st anniversary and the publication of the first of what we hope will be a series of reports headlining both the issues and solutions. Today we’ve updated our report available at our website and at to include additional important statistics.

Key insights include:


  • 81.0% of suicides due to relationship breakdown are men
  • 70.5% of Dads in Distress users experienced reduced suicidal thoughts
  • At 77.1% favourable, Dads in Distress is the most trusted support provider for separated dads
  • 93.9% of Dads in Distress users would recommend it to other dads
  • 82.4% of Dads in Distress users say it was the best support available to them
  • Each year, we estimate that our support prevents approximately 400 suicides
In our report, to reduce suicide:
  1. We strongly support Suicide Prevention Australia and the Australian Men’s Health Forum in calling on Government to develop a National Male Suicide Prevention Strategy.
  2. We would like to see targeted funding specifically for supporting dads going through relationship breakdown.
  3. The inclusion of lived experience voices of dads in both research and policy development.

In their “5 key barriers to preventing male suicide” (9th September 2020), the Australian Men’s Health Forum outline 5 key barriers to reducing male suicide. These are:
  1. We Are Gender Blind: Most suicide prevention work we do in Australia is delivered through the mental health sector in a gender-blind way, that is less effective at reaching men. It has been noted by Rosemary Calder AM, Director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, and others, that mental health policy in Australia is gender blind.
  2. We Lack A Positive Narrative: Unconscious biases mean we are more likely to view harmed men as deserving blame or punishment, and see harmed women as needing care, sympathy and protection. Consequently, research shows we are less supportive of charitable causes and policy interventions that help men when compared to women, even for the same issue. This has been summed up as, ‘women have problems, men are problems,’ and makes it difficult for policymakers and funders to disrupt gender stereotypes by tackling men’s issues like male suicide head on.
  3. We’re Not Targeting Funding: While 75% of suicides are male, the majority of Government-funded suicide prevention initiatives are more effective at reaching women. These include StandBy (80% female clients); Kids Helpline (77%); Beyond Blue’s Way Back Support Service (60%); headspace (60%) and Lifeline (around 60%). While we do not advocate for funding to be taken away from women at risk of suicide, it is reasonable to ask that suicide prevention funding be allocated in an equitable way that reflects the fact that 3 in 4 suicides are male.
  4. There Aren’t Enough Men Involved: While the majority of suicides are male, the majority of people working to prevent suicide are female. Around 70% of mental health nurses, 72% of psychological support workers, 77% of peer support workers and 79% of psychologists in Australia are female. The majority of telephone counsellors and the majority of people receiving suicide prevention training are also female. According to the Government’s Workforce Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), a gender diverse workforce has a larger pool of talent to draw from; is more efficient, productive and creative, and makes better decisions. At a grassroots, community level, there is an upswell of men who are stepping up to get involved in male suicide prevention by setting up, volunteering for and taking part in local peer support groups. We need to give more men a hand to get involved in male suicide prevention.
  5. We Need to Hear Men’s Stories: In recent years there has been a growing recognition of the importance of involving people with lived experience of suicide in the development of policies and programs, as they can provide valuable insights into suicide prevention initiatives. Currently, there are no apparent mechanisms in place to ensure that the lived experience workforce is gender diverse or provides insights into some of the common pathways to male suicide. There are also important distinctions to be made between those who have been bereaved by suicide and those who have experienced being suicidal.
And finally, for those who are not aware, the following is a stark reminder of the reality of suicide in Australia.
  • 3000+ deaths due to suicide in 2018 (3,046)
  • 8+ deaths each day by suicide in Australia on average (8.4)
  • 6.4 males per day, 2 females per day
  • 75% of suicide deaths were men in Australia (2,320)
  • Each year, around 100,000 Australians attempt suicide and it is estimated that more than 500,000 Australians have attempted suicide at some time in their life.