New figures have revealed the suicide rate for Ballarat men is almost 30 per cent higher than for men across Victoria.
The figures, revealed in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's Mortality Over Regions and Time (MORT) report, show there were 60 male suicides recorded in Ballarat over the five years from 2013 to 2017.
Men were more than seven times more likely to take their own lives than women, with suicide accounting for the deaths of just eight women over the same period.
"It's very alarming and sobering when you see this kind of statistic, and you've got to be mindful that at the centre of that there's 68 lives that have a profound impact on the family and community," said Movember Foundation's global director of mental health and suicide prevention Brendan Maher.
"I believe it's one of the biggest challenges of our generation. We know in regional and remote areas there's ... a higher rate than say metro areas, some of which can be turned back to the unique challenges faced in regional areas and in some cases there are fewer services."
In Victoria there were 2310 suicide deaths of men over the five years of the AIHW data, accounting for 2.4 per cent of all male deaths at a rate of 15.5 per 100,000 people.
The ratio was in Ballarat was much higher with suicide accounting for 3.1 per cent of all male deaths, or 24.2 per 100,000 people.
We have come so far in the past 15 to 20 years in bringing the public discussion around suicide prevention out of the shadows ... and the secondary outcome is the community are better equipped to intervene on an informal level, better able to offer support and help and to recognise and respond to someone who might be exhibiting behaviour indicating suicide.Brendan Maher
Suicide was the eighth most common cause of death for Ballarat men, but did not make the top 20 list of causes for women's loss of life.
Mr Maher said that while suicide rates were high in Ballarat, the rate of mental health admission was lower than the state average, but could not comment on the reasons.
"We know many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition, but there are a range of factors that could impact on why someone decides to take their life."
Mr Maher said there was much happening at community level to try to address suicide prevention, and the Royal Commission in to Victoria's Mental Health System was a welcome step to understanding the issues and improving suicide prevention.
"We have come so far in the past 15 to 20 years in bringing the public discussion around suicide prevention out of the shadows ... and the secondary outcome is the community are better equipped to intervene on an informal level, better able to offer support and help and to recognise and respond to someone who might be exhibiting behaviour indicating suicide."
"As Movember we are working to focus on areas around strengthening social connection for men because we know when men are connected socially and have someone, perhaps outside their immediate family, to share and talk about some of the more challenging things they might be confront in life, this discussion can hopefully happen in a place that can help at a time when a crisis might be manifesting in to the future."
The AIHW report drew from all deaths recorded across Australia from 2013 to 2017.
There were 4023 deaths in Ballarat during that period, with coronary heart disease the leading cause of death for both men and women claiming 470 lives.
Cerebrovascular disease (stroke) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were tied as the next most common causes of death for men, each taking 114 lives, followed by dementia and Alzheimer's disease (101), prostate cancer (101), lung cancer (95), colorectal cancer (84), suicide (60), diabetes (58) and accidental falls (40).
For women, dementia and Alzheimers was the second highest cause of death, claiming 194 lives, followed by cerebrovascular disease (stroke) with 168 deaths, COPD (121), breast cancer (96), lung cancer (83), colorectal cancer (79), influenza and pneumonia (57), heart failure and complications and ill-defined heart disease (55) and accidental falls (54).
The MORT report also revealed that up to 50 per cent of so-called premature deaths, or deaths of people aged under 75, were potentially avoidable
If you or someone you know needs support:
- headspace Ballarat 5304 4777
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Mensline Australia Line 1300 789 978
- Kids Help 1800 55 1800
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
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