Just yesterday was suicide prevention day. 65,000 people attempt to take their own lives every year and that number doesn’t even begin to include the hundreds of thousands who have suicidal thoughts. We have always and will always need to create a conversation that focuses on the subject of suicide. Even if it’s not the easiest or most comfortable conversation to have, it is an essential change we need to make to save lives.
Suicide is a topic that touches close to the hearts of many; especially those who have lost a loved one to suicide and those who have felt the overwhelming loneliness themselves. The saddest reality here is that suicide is now the biggest killer of men under 45; not illnesses or car accidents but the decision to take their own life has become the most vicious predator. Male rates are three times higher than female rates, and this cannot be pushed aside any longer. To mark this years suicide prevention day, men’s health charity, the Movember Foundation, has created a new set of videos that are storming the web with their new ‘Unmute – Ask Him’ campaign.
As a society we hold some very outdated views and we’re slowly combatting this, but we all know there is so much more progress needed to be made. The problem is that when we focus on the victims of patriarchal values, those at the top (aka. men) are basically told by society that since they caused this whole mess, they don’t get to complain about or address any issues they face until we’re all on an equal playing field.
So men don’t get to complain; they don’t get to complain about the fact that two out of five victims of domestic abuse are men, they don’t get to complain that they make up 94% of industrial deaths and accidents, they don’t get to complain that women receive custody in over 80% of child custody cases, and they don’t get to complain that they make up 75% of all suicides in the last year with a horrific total of 4,287 men taking their own lives in 2016.
This needs to stop. We need to stop trying to out beat each other for the position of victim and we need to stop guilt-tripping every man on this planet into silencing their issues. Boys and men of this world, you are allowed to feel everything. You are allowed to talk in-depth about what is on your mind and anyone who shames you for it, is the one who needs to feel ashamed. Your voice needs to be heard, speak out and don’t let anyone convince you that by addressing your thoughts head on, changes your masculine status in any way – because that is absurd! You are no less masculine, you are human and all humans need a hand sometimes.
Why are suicidal thoughts and depression viewed as an insult to loved ones?
There is this horrific misconception about suicide; that those who have suicidal thoughts or take their own life do so because they are selfish and don’t appreciate the love and support from their friends and family.
Often people are shocked to the core when someone commits suicide despite having a loving family and close friends; because we associate suicide with people who are lonely. But it’s time we faced up to the fact that love is not an instant fix it solution to depression and suicidal tendencies. If you care for someone who is suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts then please don’t get frustrated with them for not being happy even though they are surrounded by love.
The trouble is that by making them feel like they are being unappreciative and selfish for having depression, will likely just alienate them even further. The suicidal thoughts won’t magically disappear because you love them; and the more likely consequence of expecting the depression to vanish is that they will just hide it below the surface to not hurt anyones feelings. In doing this they may become even more isolated than before because they feel they can no longer be honest and tell you how they feel.
Movember is promoting these four points to encourage people to have conversations that can help make a real difference:
- Ask how they are doing
- Listen without judgement
- Encourage action
- Check in regularly