In June, 2000, a 44-year-old father experiencing family separation killed himself in the bush in the Victorian Gippsland region. Greg Wilton had a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. This event made national news because Greg Wilton was also a federal parliamentarian.
Each year in Australia, more than 2,500 people die by suicide. This is significantly more than the national road toll (about 1,700). Most people are aware of the focus by government and community welfare agencies on the problem of youth suicide. Each youth suicide is a tragic event that impacts on the lives of many people. The grief and suffering experienced by family and friends runs deep and is long-lasting. The causes of youth suicide are complex and difficult to discern. However, everyone would agree that every effort should be made to identify them, in order to prevent the loss of so many valuable life years.
Few people know about the suicide rate of Australian men. Of the 2,682 suicide deaths in 1998, 2,150 were male and 532 were female. Six percent of male suicides occurred in those aged less than 20.
61% of male suicides occurred between the ages of 20 and 45.
What are some of the casual or contributing factors in these deaths? Surprisingly, only 15% of males who suicided were diagnosed with a mental disorder, or were drug abusers of alcohol or drug-dependent. About 70% of males who suicided were experiencing, or had recently experienced, relationship breakdown.
An equal number of women also experience relationship breakdown, but separated men are 18 times more likely to die from suicide than separated women.
Why is there a conspiracy of silence surrounding this phenomenon?
Why is there a refusal to conduct research and collect data that would reveal the causes?
Why are so many bureaucrats, government officials and academics sitting on their hands?
Why are men dying?
Why are children losing their fathers?
I firmly believe that answers to these questions would be revealed by a thorough investigation of the activities and culture of the Child Support Agency and Family Law Court. The ideologies that underpin and permeate these organisations should be exposed. They should be held accountable for their complicity in the destruction of one of Australia’s most valuable resources: Fathers.
[Photo by Guillaume de Germain