Mental health and why men would rather die than speak up about it
Mental health in men is a subject even the 21st century man is keen to avoid, with suicide being the biggest killer of men under 45 why are men still not speaking up about how they feel?
Even in a world plagued by disease, where horrific accidents happen or people kill each other in wars or by any other means, suicide remains the biggest killer of men under 45, with 76% of all suicides in Britain being men.
Suicidal feelings are more common than anyone would like to admit, few people can say they have gone through life without having a suicidal thought but that doesn’t mean it’s the only alternative.
There is never just a single reason behind why someone commits suicide and a blanket approach to describing the causes wouldn’t be appropriate as every case is unique. However, there are some common reasons someone might try to take their own life, such as: the loss of a loved one or relationship that a person relied heavily upon, the loss of an important job or career prospect or serious financial difficulty.
These are just a few examples and even though, to the person at the time there seems no other option, it is important that people know that there is always another way and all problems can be overcome with a little nudge in the right direction.
Men and boys are seemingly more susceptible to taking their own lives for a number of reason according to an award-winning charity, C.A.L.M. (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) which is dedicated to preventing male suicide.
Some reasons for men being more likely to be driven to suicide according to C.A.L.M.’s website are:
They feel a pressure to be a winner and can more easily feel like the opposite.
They feel a pressure to look strong and feel ashamed of showing any signs of weakness.
They feel a pressure to appear in control of themselves and their lives at all times.
I spoke to a young man, who would rather remain anonymous about his experience with suicide. This 22-year-old has had a longstanding battle with depression as well as a turbulent family life which led to a failed suicide attempt in 2012. He said “I felt like everyone would be better off without me, I was sick of burdening everyone around me with my shit so thought it would be better if I wasn’t here anymore”.
He went on to say “I was so angry that my friends found me and called 999, the one time I’d been brave enough to do it, it had all been taken away and they thought they’d saved me. Now I’m so glad I had people around me who cared and saved my life. I just wish it hadn’t taken something so extreme for me to realise I’m not alone”.
Most people that are suicidal don’t want to die, they just want to escape an unbearable situation when all other options seem impossible. C.A.L.M. is committed to helping those who find themselves in such a situation and are keen to get across that “there is always another way”. This support is offered in multiple forms but the most interactive are the helpline and the webchat services.
A C.A.L.M. spokesperson said “we use young men’s peers, their voices and interests to reach them”.
She went on to say, “there is a cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help. Men are expected to always be in control and failure to be as such is often perceived as weakness and less masculine”.
C.A.L.M. says they campaign for all men, not just ‘service-users’, stating that “everyone can hit a crisis at some point in their lives and so we could all benefit from some support when things get tough”.
So if you find yourself in a position where you think there is no other alternative, pick up a phone and speak to someone or look at the stories of other young people online and how they came through it because there is always another way.
If, however you find yourself in a situation where you are worried for a friends wellbeing there are things you can do to help too.
Samaritans Cymru have launched a campaign called SHUSH, 5 ways to become a better listener. A Samaritans spokesperson said “when people feel listened to, it can save a life”.
The Samaritans listening tips were derived using 60 years’ worth of experience in listening Samaritans has built through their own workforce of 20,000 plus volunteers.
One Samaritans volunteer said, “SHUSH is Samaritans’ starting point for you to be a better listener. When I speak to people as a volunteer, I use these tips to create the necessary space for people to talk. As another benefit, my personal relationships have been transformed by my ability to be a better listener. You have to practise and you have to make them a habit but print them out and use them. I can guarantee you will learn new things about those around you”.
It’s important that if you feel someone around you needs help, make sure you don’t walk away, you could be saving a life by going over and offering to listen to them. Whoever it is, they may not feel they need to or can call a helpline so make the first move if they can’t do it for themselves.
If you feel for whatever reason you need someone to talk to, if it’s for yourself or someone you care about call either C.A.L.M. or Samaritans, they are there to support you, not to judge. They offer help, information and support to anyone calling within the UK, regardless of age, gender or geographic location; no one is turned away.
C.A.L.M. helpline and web chat service are open 5pm – midnight, every day of the year.
NATIONWIDE: 0800 58 58 58
Samaritans are available round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call them on the phone. This number is FREE to call. You don’t have to be suicidal to call us.
Whatever you’re going through, call Samaritans free any time, from any phone on 116 123.