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Lecturer's Work to Feature in Australian Documentary on Men's Mental Health

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A report on men’s suicide, produced by a University of Worcester Psychologist, is to feature in a national documentary in Australia.

Dr Peter Forster said men in Australia, as in the UK, are four times more likely to die by suicide than women.

Men are less likely to seek help, do not know where to find it and tend to see avenues like counselling as not for them.

His study also revealed that the suicide rate for Aboriginal men was four times higher than all other Australians due to issues like marginalisation.

The study has now been picked up by Australia’s ABC channel and will feature in a three-part series looking at men’s mental health and suicide prevention, to be broadcast later this year.

Dr Forster said: “I’m pleased to have contributed to the programme. A suicide does not just affect one or two people’s lives, it ripples out and affects the whole community; it’s a tragic thing.”

His joint paper, published in 2012, called Insights Into Men’s Suicide, originally a resource for mental health professionals, will be a key document viewers are referred to for help.

It was written alongside Australian colleague Suicide Prevention Consultant Susan Beaton.

Their collaboration began when Dr Forster was a senior research fellow at Charles Darwin University in Australia and chair of the Australian Psychology Society in the Northern Territory.

He came to work at the University of Worcester in 2011.

The paper brings together a number of different pieces of research identifying risk factors in men’s suicide and evaluates what treatments have been effective.

It found pressures on men include: mental health issues (such as depression or anxiety), financial difficulties, job pressures, working in an isolated setting and relationship breakdown.

Dr Forster said men tend to keep problems to themselves and use alcohol as a way of coping when they are down or distressed, which can make them act impulsively.

“Men tend to have smaller networks and rely on partners or wives for their social life. Women tend to have a wider network of female friends,” he said.

“So when their relationship breaks down they tend to lose their support system and end up feeling more isolated.

“We do know men respond to treatment just as well as women – if we can get men into counselling, psychological therapy or going to the doctor.

“The key thing is to get them into the system.”

He said sports stars talking about their own experiences had been effective as is Lifeline – the Australian equivalent of Samaritans - and also men having a safety plan of people they can contact if they ever have a crisis.