Late last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that Australian suicide numbers were the highest they've been in at least 10 years, with 3,027 people taking their own lives in 2015. The research also found that men were over three times more likely to commit suicide than women — a staggering number which may be partially explained by the fact that 80 percent of the calls made to Lifeline are made by women. It's clear men aren't talking about their mental health enough.
The scariest thing about suicide is that so often it comes out of the blue. When news of rugby star Dan Vickerman's death broke a few months ago, the first thing I did was Google to see if he'd been ill. Turns out he had been ill — but not with a physical disease. When I told my rugby-player brother, dad and granddad about Dan's death, and the fact that it was by his own hand, they looked completely perplexed. He was a man at the top of his game, a star. A well-loved family man. A tough guy, respected on and off the field. He was only 37. It made no sense. Of course, suicide never does; with men especially, loved ones rarely see it coming.
The crisis Australia faces with these increasing rates demands immediate attention. Raising awareness and reaching out are two of the easiest ways each and every one of us can have an impact in our immediate circles. It might seem obvious to women that reaching out and talking about our issues can help significantly, but when I vetted a group of my guy friends recently on what they'd want to know about male suicides, they all asked the same thing: how can we help?
If Dan Vickerman's death can teach us anything, it's that suicidal thoughts don't discriminate — and often, you only see the signs when it's too late. Below, you'll find Lifeline and BeyondBlue's top tips for making sure the men (and women!) around you are safe and have somewhere to turn.