Could this incredible gesture reduce suicides among older men? 23



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Australian philanthropist Paul Ramsay passed away last year at 78, leaving almost all of his estate to charity.

Now his foundation is passing nearly $15 million of this wealth on to the Black Dog Institute to help prevent suicide. It’s the single largest philanthropic donation of its kind, and is set to make a very real difference.

While much media attention is given to suicide in younger people, particularly males, it’s older men who are most at risk of suicide. The recent untimely death of Mike “Gibbo” Gibson was a sobering reminder of this enormous issue.

While a single donation will not change things overnight, it will almost certainly save lives – potentially reducing Australia’s suicide rate by 20%.

Professor Helen Christensen of the Black Dog Institute says this program “has the potential to change the way suicide prevention is addressed in Australia”.

“Whilst we have been waiting for funding decisions to be made, more and more people are taking their life”.

According to the ABC, Institute will be using this money to fund a “landmark trial”, covering the following very well-researched steps:

  1. Allowing appropriate care for people once they leave emergency departments, with 24/7 support through crisis lines and call-out teams.
  2. Better availability of treatment techniques, including specialised cognitive behaviour therapies.
  3. More training of GPs to identify depression and suicide risk.
  4. Suicide prevention training for police, ambulance and other frontline staff every three years.
  5. Training for carers, counsellors and others most likely to come into contact with those at risk of suicide.
  6. Training in selected workplaces.
  7. For younger people at risk: school-based peer support and mental health literacy programs
  8. Community awareness programs, along with better encouragement of responsible reporting by the media.
  9. Reduced access to the various means of suicide.

“Evidence shows we could reduce the suicide rate by around 20 per cent in the first few years of this approach being implemented,” said Professor Christensen.

“This landmark trial has the potential to change the way suicide prevention is ultimately addressed in Australia, opening the door for a nationally coordinated framework”.

How much of this allocation is focussed on older men at risk remains to be seen. Regardless, we are enormously pleased to see so much time, effort and expense put toward such an important issue; one that as touched the majority of us in the Starts at 60 community.

What an incredible legacy for Mr. Ramsay to leave behind.

For more information on dealing with depression over 60, please see Beyond Blue’s Life Starts at 60 page.

Has depression or suicide affected your life? Do you believe this program will be as big a help as hoped?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. My sister of 68 drowned in a river about 3 years ago-verdict unknown, as she suffered from depression most of her life. Miss her every day ( even though she put me through constant worry, which was unbelievable at times & can’t talk about) Choked up now 😢

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  2. the mental health system is a joke. once you are away from the Emergency department your pretty much on your own and one or two of the emergency lines just dont understand either , people suffering depression etc dont need to be given another list of phone numbers to call they need help and often that one ph call is all they are capable of. been there done that

  3. while our priority should always be the tragedy of young people getting lost in the haze of life, there should be no reason why anyone should die lonely.

  4. I lost a partner to suicide. He too suffered from depression. I found him, after several hours when he didn’t come home. He left no note and I spent the next few days dreading going to the letter box in case he had posted one. So many emotions.

  5. I think the follow up and support after being discharged is probably close to the top of help. This man has left a very important legacy.

  6. Lost my brother to suicide when he was 56 after three attempts when I was forced to have him scheduled he tricked me and went into his garage and turned the car on. We had no other option than scheduling him , there was nothing else available and he was in Qld and I was in Nsw caring for our mother who suffered from dementia. I felt so helpless and guilty when it happened. I still miss him and think of him everyday.

  7. Because men don’t like to talk about their problems because they don’t want to sound like a winger.
    If men did talk to someone then we can do more to stop the outcomes.
    Most important men must listen and be supportive and find a way to get help for their fellow men. Don’t shrug your mate. There is a huge amount of support out there. Start looking. Google it. Talk to your doctor, even talk to a women. Just don’t be shy. It takes brave man to admit to a problem andoing a great mate to find the help.
    Don’t forget if you do cry you are helping yourself to release the tension.
    Men should support each other and don’t be afraid to give each other a hug. It costs nothing, you don’t lose your manly hood but you draw strength from each other.
    2 to 3 years before my father died we gave each other a hug and kissed each other on the cheek. My father was a real man man. He loved his family very much but could not get physically close. But that day with me we both became closer and the years of wondering just disappeared. The best day of my life.
    Try it, what have got to loose. Nothing but a lot to gain. And it is free.

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    • Great post Ian and so true, I think the younger generation are more affectionate, I do know a blokey family where the adult men always kiss their dad on greeting lovely to see. And when my father was dying my husband kissed him goodby. 😊

  8. How sad that it is needed. We are not like some societies that believe oldies are wise and to be respected. Neighbours looked in on each other to see all was ok or took a meal and have a chat. Shame there’s have disappeared in much of society today.

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