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Will the Silence is Deadly Program Improve Men’s Mental Health?

An upcoming trial will determine the effectiveness of an Australian self-harm intervention program called Silence is Deadly on men’s mental health.

Teen suicide is a growing concern across the globe. According to a study by Slade in 2009, men are much less likely to seek help during mental duress than women at all ages, most notably during adolescence. This is a grave concern that help-seeking institutions want to address. Australian high schools have tried to improve the efficacy and outreach regarding men’s mental health with their Silence is Deadly trial program.

In a trial protocol recently published in BioMed Central, researchers describe an upcoming trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the Silence is Deadly program compared to a control. Eight Australian high schools will be selected to participate in the proactive trial program compared to a wait-list control group.

Approximately 100 male students will be recruited from each school as subjects for the trial. Subjects will be cluster-randomized across schools for either program enrollment or wait-list control condition. Screenings for at-risk participants will be noted and addressed via school policy and procedure. Both study groups (intervention and wait-list) will complete pre and post-intervention surveys, but only the designated intervention schools’ subjects will attend the Silence is Deadly program.

While the primary goal of Silence is Deadly is to test the viability of the program, secondary objectives include improving help-seeking attitudes, reduce stigma for help-seeking, and explore the impact of intervention with follow-ups. The program is structured in a way to allow open dialogue from a traditional male role facilitator (e.g., athletes, military service members) with a group session followed by an open question and answer session.

By targeting gender-specific attitudes of males and hopefully removing the stigma of help-seeking behavior, this trial could provide crucial help to preventing and reducing men’s mental health problems in youth. Researchers hope to garner more attention to this and programs like it that are severely lacking in Australia. Registration is currently underway as of May 2017.

Written by Cooper Powers, BSc


(1) Calear, A., Banfield, M., Batterham, P., Morse, A., Forbes, O., Carron-Arthur, B., Fisk, M. (2017). Silence is deadly: a cluster-randomised controlled trial of a mental health help-seeking intervention for young men. BioMed Central, 17(834). Retrieved from
(2) Slade, T., Johnston, A., Teesson, M., Whiteford, H., Burgess, P., Pirkis, J., Saw, S. (2009). The mental health of Australians 2: report on the 2007 National Survey of mental health and wellbeing. Canberra: Department of Health. Retrieved from


  1. —hopefully removing the stigma of help-seeking

    If I keep teaching that stigma, of what help am I? If I keep accepting someone teaching it, of what help am I? If you do, what help are you?

    None of us need do so, yet a great many of us seem to believe we do.


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