Sydney Morning Herald
Sunday, January 7, 2001

Dangers of being a man

By Fia Cumming
Sydney Morning Herald

Almost two out of five men who died in 1999 aged between 25 and 39 committed suicide.

Another 25 per cent died of accidental poisoning, mainly because of alcohol or drugs overdose, and almost as many died in transport accidents, some of which could also have been suicide.

Just 16pc died of cancer, by far the biggest medical cause of death and the main cause of death among women in the 25 to 39 years bracket.

Avoidable deaths were much higher among men who had never married, or who were divorced, than those who were married.

The disturbing picture of men in crisis is detailed in a Bureau of Statistics article on deaths among people aged 25 to 39 years.

It follows warnings that Australia is experiencing a depression "epidemic", which has prompted Prime Minister John Howard to set up a national depression initiative with former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.

The overall death rate for men in the target group was 2 times as high as for women, at about 84 per 100,000.

Men who had never married were 50pc more likely to die and those who had been married but were divorced were 29pc more likely to die than their married peers.

The suicide rate among men who had never married in the age bracket was a staggering 50 per 100,000, followed by divorced men on 44 per 100,000.

In contrast, the rate among married men was just 17 per 100,000.

Accidental poisonings killed 39 single men per 100,000, 30 per 100,000 divorced men and only 3 per 100,000 married men.

Men accounted for more than 70pc of all deaths in the age group, 82pc of the suicides and 80pc of deaths from accidental poisoning.

Across the whole population, more than 2,000 men - and 490 women - were declared to have died from "intentional self-harm" in 1999.

The median age for male suicides was 38.8 years, and 40.2 for women.

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