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Gender differences in dealing with life

A reader wonders why men are more likely than women to commit suicide.

QUESTION:

Men are not perfect, clearly, but women have their faults too. They can be manipulating. Many men are subjected to this and fall victim to it. Frankly, on the emotional side, we have few defensive mechanisms. Is this why the rate of suicide worldwide is five times higher for men than it is for women?

ANSWER: 

Suicide and self-harming are very complex subjects, and the statistics can be unreliable due to the differences in reporting and recording around the world.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports 1885 male and 637 female deaths from suicide in 2013, a ratio of 2.9:1. Research has shown that a similar amount of women self-harm. While self-harm does not necessarily mean a suicide attempt, it is believed that women do attempt suicide at least as often as men. It is understood that men complete suicide more often due to the means they use to suicide.

There are many reasons why people attempt suicide. Sometimes it is a cry for help and not intended to be successful. Many would be suffering depression at the time. Men and women deal with the world differently. Women are more likely to talk about their feelings and ask for help and support before an attempted suicide.

They are often more social and less isolated that men, who can be more action-oriented and likely to take concrete steps rather than to talk things out with others.

Some relationships would fit the picture you describe, but this cannot be generalised.

It is normal to work out ways to get needs met, and manipulation can be tried when people feel they are not listened to and they can’t get their message across. It can range from minor to severe.

A better way would be to seek counselling where it can be explored why this manoeuvre is thought to be necessary and more successful ways to communicate considered.

The panel sees suicide as a major health issue, with an average of 6.9 deaths every day. Becoming aware of and acknowledging the signs of suicidal ideation both in ourselves and in others is an essential first step in combating this problem.

It is important to seek medical help for depression. The GP is the first to approach. If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, contact Lifeline (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1300 224 636) or Salvo Care Line (1300 363 622).

Medicare rebates are available for mental health services provided by GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, eligible social workers and occupational therapists under the Australian Government’s Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative. You must be referred by your GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician.

A GP would need to complete a detailed mental health assessment and prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan before referring you to a specialist.

You should book a longer session with your GP to enable time for this. Eligible people can have up to 10 individual sessions a year. Your referring doctor will assess your progress after six sessions.

Alternatively, group therapy sessions may be covered, where such services are available and seen as appropriate. The Better Access initiative is available to patients with an assessed mental disorder who would benefit from a structured approach to the management of their treatment needs.

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