Men Are 3.5 Times More Likely To Commit Suicide, So Why Are We Still Silent?

Men Are 3.5 Times More Likely To Commit Suicide, So Why Are We Still Silent?

Despite being more likely to die from suicide than women, men are routinely absent from our suicide prevention programs.
255
views

Earlier this week, September 11th, I attended a club meeting on the campus of the Ohio State University; it was a meeting of the Buckeye Campaign Against Suicide. Much like the previous meeting, I found everyone there to be wonderful. There was just one problem: out of the 27 people there, I was one of only seven men. The previous meeting included a similar proportion.

As I was discussing this with some friends of mine, a couple responses stood out. One of my friends back home in Cincinnati told me, "At least you weren't the only guy. That's good." Another friend, here at OSU, expressed her surprise that the number of guys was even that high, saying, "It's sad, but I would've expected an even lower percentage than that."

Some brief research reaffirms what I'd seen through my own personal experience and through the responses of my friends: suicide prevention is disproportionately levied toward girls and the benefits disproportionately go to them, as well.

One particularly damning report from the US government concluded that "Several studies have shown females to be more responsive to and accepting of suicide awareness programming in schools when compared to male classmates." The same report found "Females showed greater knowledge of and more constructive attitudes about depression and suicide than males. Females were also more likely than males to seek help for emotional disturbances, to intervene on behalf of peers, and to report their own suicidal thoughts or attempts."

It appears clear to me that at a societal level, we are failing the men and boys of the country when it comes to suicide prevention and mental health treatment as a whole, especially as men are 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide than women.

I think that a big part of our problem arises with our generally accepted definition of what it means to "be a man;" our problem arises with our view of masculinity, in all its toxicity. From a young age, boys are taught not to cry or to express or share feelings and emotions, as it is seen as a sign of weakness and, even worse, a sign of femininity.

These bottled up emotions fester and build up inside until either some cathartic release to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist or, in the worst of cases, they're never released at all and our young boys become tortured men.

Coming from an all-male high school, one whose students experienced the pain and anguish of suicide more deeply than anyone that age should, I've seen this firsthand. However, I've also seen that it doesn't have to be this way. I've seen high school boys come together and form a community of love and mutual caring when we needed it most. I've seen cathartic, mass releases of emotion when we've needed it most.

I just wish that it didn't take a tragedy to find that catharsis. I wish that boys were encouraged to deal with their emotions in healthy ways, rather than being told to "suck it up" before something happened. I wish that we could deal with suicide prevention, rather than just suicide postvention.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Popular Right Now

To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
1543135
views

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

10 Ways In Which I Have Dealt With Losing A Friend To Suicide

December 8, 2017 was a day my world became a little darker.

1324
views

Just your normal Friday evening, it was snowing, and my classes were done for the semester. I was on the third floor of our campus library. When all of a sudden I got a dreaded email. He was gone. The guy who although I only knew him for a couple weeks came to the back of the bus to come talk to me while I rode to my piano class. I would be lying if I told you that I have been okay physically, emotionally, and/or mentally since that day. But here are some things I have learned to ensure I am healthy during this tough season.

1. Understanding the situation

images.pexels.com

This is the first time that I have really lost someone close to me in a pretty traumatic way. The feeling of shock and grief can be pretty overwhelming. Sitting with those feelings can be really uncomfortable but are 100% necessary.

2. Realize that no two people experience loss in the same way 

I think the hardest thing for me has been looking at others who were also close to him, much closer than I was, and thinking that they have their life together and are not having the type of bad days I am experiencing. I have to constantly remind myself that people go through different stages of grief at different speeds, and there is no "right way" of showing how much you are hurting.

3. Acknowledge that this situation is unique

assets.rbl.ms

Losing a friend or loved one is never easy. However, when you lose someone to suicide as I did, it can feel different from other types of loss. Several circumstances such as the stigma around this issue can make death by suicide different, making the healing process more challenging.

4. Fight the stigma

https://www.everypixel.com/

Stigma around mental health and suicide have been a problem in our society recently, and as a pre-health profession major, I have worked to the best of my ability to break that stigma down to the ground.

5. Understand that there can be risks for survivors (AKA me)

People who have recently experienced a loss by suicide are at increased risk of having suicidal thoughts themselves. After experiencing the loss of a loved one, it's not uncommon to wish you were dead or to feel like the pain is unbearable. Remember that having suicidal thoughts does not mean that you will act on them. These feelings and thoughts will likely decrease over time, but if you find them too intense, or if you're considering putting your thoughts into action, seek support from a mental health professional.

6. Find support 

It's very important to find people in your life who are good listeners so that you can turn to someone when you need extra support. You may find it helpful to talk to a friend, family member, mental health professional, or spiritual advisor.

7. Stay present 

Take each moment as it comes. That way, you can better accept whatever you're feeling and be able to respond in the way that is most helpful to you. I personally benefit from calling my best friend. Some people find journaling helpful to let go of your thoughts for now.

8. Find time and space for yourself to grieve BUT don't allow yourself to be in that space for very long 

Unsplash

Acknowledging your experiences is necessary. Whether it's talking about it with a friend, journaling, or just sitting with your thoughts in private. Just make sure you leave enough time to do something pleasantly distracting from time to time. Social events or pleasant activities can provide relaxation and distraction. Laughter heals the soul.

9. It's OK to cry

Giphy

Just because I just said to schedule fun activities doesn't mean that you should bottle up feelings for that time. It's okay to have those emotional breakdowns once in a while.

10. Have an accountability partner 

Misbah Chhotani

With the one year anniversary coming up with my friend, I have already brought in two of my really good friends into my life that have promised to check up on me all week to make sure I am balancing feelings with living my life. Find that someone or two that will walk with you during this difficult season.

To anyone reading this article and has gone through a similar struggle with losing a friend to suicide, know that I know how it feels, and I am here for you. Life may seem unbearable right now but it will get better. Probably not today or tomorrow, and in my case, not a year later. But believe it or not, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Related Content

Facebook Comments