International Men’s Day Largest Global Presentation to Stop Men’s Suicide, Parliament House, Australia
We were taken by surprise. Nat and I were talking when we were interrupted by a young man with tears in his eyes, pointing at our sign. He was about 30 years of age, and he stammered out the question, “What is this all about?” between sobs. Speaking quietly, I said, “We are here outside Parliament House to help save men’s lives by working towards Zero Male Suicide.”
Warwick Marsh with Senator Pauline Hanson, IMD Award 2023
You see, we were setting up our Zero Male Suicide International Men’s Day sign outside Parliament House in Canberra, with 20 other charities who had united around the common cause of working towards stopping male suicide. He offered some further explanation: “My brother has been on suicide watch with our family for the last three months. We think we have talked him out of it, but only time will tell. What you are doing is so important.”
My new friend continued, “I am standing for the ACT Parliament at the elections next year, and stopping male suicide will be my number one priority if I get elected. We need the federal government to do the same and all state governments to stand with them.”
I said to my new friend, “Paul Withall, the coordinator of the 2,500 Shoes Men’s Suicide Presentation event outside Parliament House, feels exactly the same way. He is asking for a Minister for Men’s Health and Welfare. The team at Dads4Kids have been asking for much the same for the last 20 years. It is all recorded in our 12Pt Plan Father & Families policy document. It is number one of the twelve.” See Paul’s presentation and the story of the day in the video below.
The memory came rushing back of the day I was interrupted at work by a woman’s screams. “Help me, please!” she screamed. “My brother has hung himself underneath my house. He needs help.” My mate and I were working on a building site across the road, so it wasn’t far to go, but it was too late.
Her trauma and her desperate cries for help still haunt me. You see, men are crying for help, but their voice is just not heard. That’s why men like Paul Withall are so important. As Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” The good news is the 2,500 Empty Shoes Presentation outside Parliament House in Canberra is giving men a voice.
Warwick Marsh with Paul Withall, IMD Award 2023
This is the second year that Dads4Kids has help sponsor the 2,500 Empty Shoes Male Suicide Presentation at Parliament House in Canberra, an observance of International Men’s Day. This year, the team at Dads4Kids gave Paul Withall the 2023 International Men’s Day Australian Courage Award for his amazing work on promoting the desperate need to reverse the silent epidemic of male suicide in Australia.
Sadly, globally every year, 452,000 men commit suicide. Almost twice as many men kill themselves, compared to women. On average in Western countries, for every one woman who commits suicide, tragically, 3-4 men take their own lives.
Professor Dan Bilsker states that we are in the middle of ‘a silent epidemic of male suicide’. Dr Rob Whitley says, “New, male-friendly suicide prevention measures must be adopted to help halt the crisis.” Rob is right — our current approach is not dealing with the situational reality of male suicide.
“We now have solid proof that mental health problems are not the key risk factor for male suicide for one of our major groups of vulnerable men. For the first time, this year the Australian Bureau of Crime Statistics published statistics based on coroners’ reports showing relationship/family breakdown is the major suicide trigger for family men — men in their peak child-raising years from 25-44.
Here’s what the ABS said:
The top risk factor for males aged 25-44 years was problems in spousal relationships circumstances, present in over one-third of suicides. Problems in spousal relationships overtook mood disorders as the top risk factor in this age group for the first time and can include separation and divorce as well as arguments and domestic violence situations.
Here you go. We’re talking family law issues, men under fire in our increasingly hostile family law system, facing the risk of losing their children, home and assets, and the stress of monstrous legal costs. Plus ‘domestic violence situations’, which often means false allegations.
Our current, failing suicide prevention policies are ignoring both the key target group and one of the key causes of suicide. No wonder we are doing badly.”
Warwick Marsh with Barry Williams, IMD Award 2023
One suicide is one too many. Together, we can work towards zero male suicide. One of the ways you can do this is to sign this petition organised by Amanda Sillars from the Eeny Meeny Miney Mo foundation in support of a Minister for Men and Boys. Amanda has a tonne of heart, so she is doing this as a private citizen. See her in the above video. The details and the wording for the petition are found here. Please sign the petition to the Australian Senate for a Minister for Men and Boys, found at this link.
Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker.
Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”
The Fatherhood Foundation Incorporated trading as Dads4Kids is a Harm Prevention Charity listed under Subdivision 30_EA of the Australian Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 with Tax Deductible Status (DGR) for donations
Dads4Kids – Building Men. Growing Fathers. Changing Generations.