“Be a man.”
“Don’t cry, what are you – a girl?”
Words seem simple when we say them, but it’s amazing to realize the impact they have. Instead of the words dying, our young men are instead. Their feelings are simply not valued, and when many young men in our society try to express them they are shunned for being ‘feminine’ or ‘too emotional.’
Believe it or not, while society has portrayed a much different perspective on the matter; men have feelings too! Boys are taught more often than not to be tough, which is represented by being emotionless, and fearless. It’s only human to feel, its even been shown that men tend to feel more. With the recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain, our countries hearts are aching. It’s shedding new light on a growing issue in the US that has continuously been swept under the rug for years now. Male depression! But is masculinity playing a part!
The beloved, big names we all recognize,
Hunter S. Thompson.
The list is endless, although these men were famous, they were people. There are people who may not have their names in lights, just like you and I who are struggling. The ASFP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) Reports that not only is suicide the 10th leading cause of deaths in the US, that on average there are 123 suicides per day. The CDC reports one death by suicide every 12 minutes. For every one of those, 25 attempt. Currently, 7 out of 10 suicides in 2016 were white men, and men, in general, are dying by suicide about 3 times more than women.
It’s time for a change.
To put it simply, most men don’t feel as though they can express themselves. Instead, they take those feelings they have tucked away and they may act out. Acting overly masculine or partaking in overly dangerous activities. Anthony Bourdain spoke openly and often about his depression which raises the question we all are begging for an answer to.
Again, such an easy word to utter as we receive more horrendous news about a life ended too soon at one’s own hands. But words again, remember, are simply words. We must stop using words to solve problems and instead begin using logic to conquer the root problem. Instead of asking “Why did that happen?” we must ask, “Why did he not feel valued?” and “Why wasn’t proper help provided?”
Picture a time in your life where you felt depressed.
I’m sure it’s easy! Maybe you felt too fat, too skinny. Or you struggle with mental health and aren’t sure, or didn’t feel like you had a safe space to express those feelings. Maybe you lost someone dear to you, and your heart hasn’t quite been the same since their departure. Above all, maybe you were taught from such a young age that your feelings weren’t valid. That you and all other men had a responsibility, that being to shield your fragile heart from assistance. To ‘toughen up’ and to bear through it on your own.
These so-called ‘values’ are ruining our society as a whole. Yes, women are affected as well. And although some women may feel this way; it’s socially acceptable for a woman to cry, to share her feelings. It’s also much more common for a woman to attempt suicide and not succeed. This is not a sign of weakness, this is a sign of valued feelings. A sign that there’s something in her that tells her “What if?” or “Maybe, I can try…Just one more day.”
It’s so important if you or someone you know are thinking about committing suicide to take action. You are not alone, and if a loved one is showing signs or talking about committing suicide it’s important not to brush it off or leave them to ‘figure it out.
The National Institute of Mental Health’s website has some lists of possible signs and steps on how to help. Including asking the toughest question “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” When we think back to Bourdain and Robin Williams, they were portrayed as happy, funny characters. Bourdain was known for self-deprecating jokes and you have to wonder if people, myself included simply laughed without looking at the serious, underlying reason that these jokes were told to begin with. When we look at Williams, he was a treasure. Known for his kindness in the media and in his personal life and was a treasure. He was diagnosed with diseases both physical and mental and those could be what attributed to his later suicide.
It’s important for us to educate, and to nurture our young men as the suicide rate plummets. We must cherish all feelings for all people and release ourselves from the stigma that strength comes from solidarity. We are responsible in making this change not just in our world, but in our own lives with friends and families. Ask those tough questions and don’t fear the consequence of being there for someone when they need it the most. You could just save someone’s life.
An educational article written to provide information about rising depression in the male population. This article was not written by, nor is it intended to replace a licensed psychologist/psychiatrist. If you are contemplating suicide, hurting yourself or just need someone to talk to one of the many free, confidential helplines are 1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, open 24/7) You are important, your life matters, and you are loved.
You can also read about the emotional benefits of physical activity here!