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Coronavirus puts suicidal dads at risk warns charity


Coronavirus puts suicidal dads at risk warns charity

A national parents charity supporting separated dads at risk of suicide needs urgent help to move its services online after being forced to close its groups as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.

Pete Nicholls, CEO of Parents Beyond Breakup, the charity that runs Dads in Distress support groups says:

“The first Dads In Distress group met in Coffs Harbour in 1999 on a verandah, started by our founder Tony Miller OAM. Last week, in homage to our humble beginnings, we launched the Virtual Verandah; an online support service that helps dads at risk of suicide connect online with their peers. The initial feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with dads telling us the service is essential and keeping them alive.

This week, we’ve helped fewer dads than normal, because of the coronavirus, but we’ve also piloted the Virtual Verandah, which gives us the technology to reach more suicidal dads than ever before. The only thing that is preventing us from rolling out the service and saving more lives is lack of Government funding."

The call for help came as the peak suicide prevention body, Suicide Prevention Australia, released a report saying more funding is needed to prevent male suicide, particularly amongst separated dads.

According to the report, relationship breakdown has a significant and long lasting impact on divorced men -  eight times more likely to kill themselves than divorced women.

The Turning the Tide report, published today by Suicide Prevention Australia, says that more needs to be done to help separating men access existing support services like Dads In Distress (DIDs), which supports more than 10,000 separated fathers at risk of suicide every year.

Nicholls welcomed the findings of the Turning the Tide report and says putting more funding into peer led and managed groups that have a long-term commitment to supporting dads and delivering real results is crucial. He says:

“Three in four suicides are men, but the majority of people using mental health services are women. When dads separate, they need a specialist service that understands the issues they are dealing with. Our programs have been working to keep dads alive and in their kids’ lives for 20 years, yet we don’t receive a dollar in suicide prevention funding from the Government.”

The Turning the Tide report builds on research published World Suicide Prevention Day 2019, which found that the biggest emerging suicide risks in the next decade would be the gig economy, rising consumer debt, and relationships.

The report found that men’s wellbeing is closely related to having strong family relationships and networks; also the high value that men place on these relationships may contribute to the long-term negative effects of relationship loss, thus increasing the risk of suicidal behaviour.

As intimate relationship breakdown has long lasting impact, helping men in these situations to connect with support services like Dads In Distress should be a priority, says the report.


  • Parents Beyond Breakup is a national suicide prevention charity focussing on separated parents
  • www.parentsbeyondbreakup.com
  • News section features press release here: https://www.parentsbeyondbreakup.com/pbb/news#h.p_tnP-Bxj7TLNU
  • Contact: Cindication on cindy@cindication.com