Currently, we have a higher level of suicide awareness than we ever have before, that is fantastic. There are many wonderful people and organisations supporting the need to talk more about suicide, and that is also fantastic. So why are men still significantly over-represented in suicide compared to women, and why aren't men talking more?
"Why aren't men seeking help when they most need it?"
There are many reasons - they may have internalised feelings of shame, guilt, loss of face, failure, weakness, the list goes on. All of these 'feelings' for me suggest that men are not good at talking about their emotions. Why, it's not in our nature to do so, it's not in our DNA.
When was the last time that you heard a man talking about their emotions? They may talk about how great something was, how they were excited by something, or talk about how proud they felt when something happened. But men tend not to talk about how they are truly feeling emotionally, more so if it opens them to a suggestion of fragility.
"Seldom will you hear a man say that he feels sad, or alone, or lost, or hurt or emotional."
Men have never talked about their emotions since the beginning of time, instead we bury ourselves in our work to hide from them. In earlier times, each day we would get up and go out hunting and gathering to feed our family. To become a man, you had to kill your first beast without any help. Sure, these young boys were scared but they buried their fear and killed that beast regardless. Then everyone celebrated the boy entering into manhood and never spoke of how afraid they felt. But their mothers knew!
For the most part, men and women have the same emotions. Men have simply learned over time not to talk about their emotions that may open them to ridicule or give the impression that they are weak or leave them feeling vulnerable to the world.
We know that everyone can change, I am personally convinced of that. So why don't we as men change the way that we speak about our emotions? The truth is that we can do so and we desperately need to if we want to stay 'well' in our heads.
"Suicide is an emotional response to situations, it is not a mental illness."
Generally, suicide is an emotional response to one or more overwhelming events. The brain searches for a way to escape the situation and if it can't find one it will suggest suicide as an answer. That's what a suicidal ideation is, a thought of suicide as the brain searches for a way out to stop the emotional hurt and pain.
Men should talk more, I agree with the current message. But we should talk more about our emotions, about our feelings. We often try to yet when we do eventually talk about them we just don't use the right words to express how we truly feel. We don't feel comfortable in expressing how we feel emotionally.
This reluctance may be because we don't know how to express our emotions, or perhaps we don't know the right words to describe how we really feel. We must learn to if we want to halt this curable disease that is killing us at more than three times the rate of women.
Let's not forget that women are also taking their own lives, just not at the same rate as men. If we are going to talk about suicide, then let's all talk together about how we feel.
"Let's normalise our conversation around feelings and emotions, together, men and women."