Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. For that to change, the stigma of mental illness must be challenged
"For all too many men, there is no rescue. Last week, millions were shocked by the suicide of beloved actor Robin Williams. The aftermath has provoked a long-neglected debate aboutmental health and suicide.
A cursory look at the statistics in Britain suggests it is dearly needed. Suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 and 49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. It is also predominantly a male disorder. Of the 5,981 suicides in 2012, an astonishing 4,590 (76%) were men. And yet while Britain has high-profile campaigns on, say, testicular cancer or driving safely, the biggest killer of men under 50 is not getting the attention it deserves.
Jane Powell is the founder and director of Calm, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, which specifically deals with male suicide. “If you’re a mum, a dad, a loved one, you want to worry about the biggest threat,” she says. “And yet we worry about assault levels, rather than the real killer – suicide.” She makes a provocative case: that while breast cancer does kill men, we rightly focus on it as a female disease. In the same way, suicide prevention has to focus on men. “We need to name the issue,” she says.
THESE ARE MY THOUGHTS…
If you just read this article - and if it truly resonates with you, I strongly suggest - no - urge - you to pick up a book that enabled a profound shift in my own life - and perhaps my community as well - called “The Gift of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. You can check out Brene’s TED Talks for now - but definitely read the book - it’s a very short text / fast read / easy narrative - and helps the reader to understand how to make a profound shift in our thinking.
Most of us men are constantly reminded by society, pop culture, media, entertainment as well as by own familial expectations, that we are Strong not weak, Put-Together not emotional, Workers not feelers, Fighters not cryers - that we would be better off being Brave and Confronting battle on top of our White Horse - even if it means we Die Trying - rather than getting off that damn white horse - and asking - or pleading for help - and it’s that refusal to be vulnerable - that is killing us.
Get Off The White Horse. Start by starting up a small circle of men in your own community - call it what you want - the men den, man cave, sharing circle, guy-talk, etc. but the point is start letting what we so often keep bottled up and hidden, slowly release - and when we do that - we will find that we are indeed not alone - all us guys are going through almost exactly the same sh*t - and knowing that is empowering - but what’s even more powerful is learning how we can each welcome and handle those challenges - because the men in our circle themselves have taken on those challenges, confronted them and moved forward - and they needed NO White Horse.
Get Off Your White Horse.