Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre

Western Sydney University: Pathways to Despair: The Social Determinants of Male Suicide

MHIRC 2Western Sydney University: Pathways to Despair: The Social Determinants of Male Suicide In 2010, the Men's Health Information and Resource Centre was commissioned to investigate the causes and factors behind male suicides on the NSW Central Coast. This report uncovers the stories from survivors and families of men who took their own lives.

Addressing the issue of suicide is a complex and detailed challenge.  This research project investigated the factors and backgrounds behind a group of male suicides on the Central Coast of New South Wales up to 2010.

It revealed that the individuals' decisions to end their lives arose from a set of long-standing circumstances and issues that collectively worked to erode their ability to cope with life.  Typically, there was a set of stressors that started a spiral of behaviours and understanding the patterns of these behaviours holds lessons for those working in suicide prevention and intervention.

The paper reveals that these transitions act as tipping points into potentially destructive behaviours - these include:

  • Relationship breakdowns
  • Loss of employment
  • Abuse during childhood
  • Work-related stresses and pressures to perform
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

What do services need to understand about their role in suicide prevention?

The major barriers identified in services include:

  • Fragmented services that increase the feelings of chaos, uncertainty and impersonality that can further isolate individuals and their families.
  • Issues with under-qualified or inexperienced workers who really lacked the skills to have a positive effect or to adequately deal with the trauma of suicide.
  • Mismatch between services capability - related to the issue of fragmentation, some services have a more progressive approach to the issues of male health than others.  Services need to properly understand how to work with male clients in a positive way.


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