This month I want to delve a little deeper on the issue of suicide. Particularly with regards to men.
Two people have committed suicide within my own family. Both suicides left us all devastated. It left us all feeling helpless, confused, guilty and angry. Why didn’t we know they were feeling like this, why couldn’t they just talk to us, why didn’t they ask for help? These questions still continue to haunt us and will do forever.
Suicide claims a staggering number of lives.
In 2014, 6,122 people committed suicide. The Office for National Statistics state that men are three times more likely to commit suicide compared to women. Seventy-six percent of those who committed suicide were men and twenty-four percent were women. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men between the ages of 20 and 34.
It begs the question, why are men more likely to kill themselves?
Professor Louis Appleby from National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group in England said ‘men are more at risk from suicide because they are more likely to drink heavily, self-harm and are reluctant to seek help’.
For some men, asking for help during a time of crisis is taboo. So many men are reluctant to ask for because they think it will make them look weak and vulnerable. Or they feel that they ‘don’t want to be a burden’. The question is why do men feel like this? Is it nature or nurture? Probably a bit of both.
There are risk factors that we should be aware of. This includes mental illness especially depression. Also chronic illness and certain occupations.
So how can we prevent suicide and save lives?
Well, we can all start to tackle the culture that prevents men seeking help. This will not happen overnight, but we can start by telling boys and men that sharing and talking about problems is not a sign of weakness or a loss of masculinity, but a sign of strength. Let’s create a culture of helping and supporting men who need help.
Loved ones should stop telling men who are in crisis to ‘man up’. Especially when they are feeling down or emotional. We should encourage them to talk or seek help. It’s important that we reclaim masculinity and broaden its definition to include showing and dealing with emotions and feelings.
We can do this and we can save lives. Many lives. I don’t want any more families to live with aftermath of a loved one’s suicide. We can all be part of the solution.
Stay focused and stay blessed.