News National Cliff jumping, peer pressure linked to drowning deaths of young men

Cliff jumping, peer pressure linked to drowning deaths of young men

Young men are drowning after engaging in risky behaviour, a new study shows. Photo: TND/Getty
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Young Aussie blokes are the country’s most common drowning victims, caused by risky behaviour like cliff jumping, and swimming under the influence of drugs.

New research by Surf Life Saving Australia shows men aged between 15 and 34 were more likely than other adults to drown while taking risks around water.

Sadly, the data forms part of a broader trend where Australian men of all ages make up a vast proportion of all drowning deaths.

According to the study, young men in particular may be overestimating their swimming ability or jumping into the water without looking for dangers first.

Queensland’s Gold Coast is a known drowning ‘black spot’. Photo: Getty

Their increased risk of drowning was also linked to their greater participation in aquatic activities (which therefore increases their risk of injury or death), as well as social pressure to show off in front of their friends.

Using data from the National Coronial Information System (Australia) and Surf Life Saving incident reports, the researchers found young men were nearly 10 times more likely to drown while jumping and 1.4 times more likely to drown at coastal rock or cliff locations.

The researchers also found young men were roughly 1.7 times more likely drown while under the influence of illicit drugs, especially ice and marijuana.

“Men taking risks and overestimating abilities continues to be our greatest challenge,” said Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Scarr.

“We urge men to look out for your mates, while holidaying, camping and boating on rivers and lakes.”

Last season, men of all ages made up 80 per cent of all drowning deaths in Australia, according to this year’s National Coastal Safety report by Royal Life Saving Society Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia.

Tragically, 248 people drowned across Australia from July 2019 to June 2020, with men aged 25 to 34 years old the most represented demographic (93 per cent).

Of those who lost their lives, 125 died in coastal waters: 45 at beaches, 41 offshore and 26 at rock or cliff locations.

New South Wales was the nation’s deadliest state, recording 49 coastal drowning deaths, followed by 29 in Queensland and 21 in Western Australia.

Australia’s top 10 drowning ‘black spots’ were:

  • Port Stephens, NSW
  • Wollongong, NSW
  • National parks, NSW
  • Northern beaches, NSW
  • Shoalhaven, NSW
  • Kempsey, NSW
  • Gold Coast, Queensland
  • Sunshine Coast, Queensland
  • Lockhart River, Queensland
  • Torres Strait
  • Wildlife parks, WA

Rip currents have contributed to 25 per cent of coastal drowning deaths since 2004, according to the report.