Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. This is a sensitive subject, but it is essential to talk about suicide, the statistics and how we can help to prevent it by talking about it.
According to The Samaritans, a massive 6,213 people took their own lives in the UK and Ireland in 2017.
Of that number, they discovered that men are three times more likely to take their own lives. In fact, CALM Project 84 states that ’84 Men in the UK take their own lives every week’.
Why Are Male Suicide Rates Higher?
The Samaritans Report: ‘Men and Suicide: Why It’s a Social Issue’ states, “Masculinity: the way men are brought up to behave and the roles, attributes and behaviours that society suspects of them- contributes to suicide in men”.
Has society’s portrayal of men as these strong, masculine characters put too much pressure on them? When I was growing up, men weren’t seen as sensitive. They were always given the ‘manly’ jobs and roles in the household and they never spoke about their feelings.
Thankfully, this has shifted over the years. It is becoming clear that none of those characteristics and attributes define masculinity. Your masculinity is not threatened today when you speak about feelings, in fact more often than not it is welcomed for men to speak out about how they feel, to show emotion and to be in more caring roles.
Even on TV, it is becoming more recognisable for men to be more affectionate and we see popular ‘bromances’ forming. A ‘bromance’ involves two men becoming great friends and being affectionate towards each other in a platonic way. Some great examples are Ant & Dec, Kem and Chris from Love Island 2017 or Pete Wicks and Sam Thomson from Celebs Go Dating.
The World is changing in how we see gender and sexuality. It is becoming far more normal to see men be in roles such as nurses and to open up.
We still need to do more
Although the rates have slightly decreased, it is not enough. Too many people are ending their lives and men are more at risk. We need to make sure that everyone knows where you can turn to talk about this. No one, male or female, should be ashamed of how they are feeling.
When you speak out, a weight will start to drop off your shoulders as you release all of the pent up thoughts and feelings that have been weighing you down. By speaking out, you are finally coming to terms with how you feel, it becomes more real, a little more scary, but then more manageable. You can and will get support when you turn to the right people.
It’s hard when you feel alone
When I was at my worst with my anxiety, I used to feel so alone in how I felt. I used to feel ashamed, like if I admitted how I felt, I would be judged and labelled as ‘crazy’. I bottled it all up and would wake up everyday dreading the day ahead. I constantly wondered if things would ever get easier.
I would put on a brave face, smile when I needed to and I just did anything to get through each and everyday. At times it was like being trapped inside my own body, wanting to shout and scream out for help but not knowing how society or my friends and family would take it.
Bit by bit I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I started to slowly tell my family and close friends that I was struggling. Then, bit-by-bit, things started to improve.
I then went to my GP and they referred me to Steps to Wellbeing, a mental health service in Dorset. The staff are absolutely amazing and so caring.
The most important thing I have ever done is to speak out
Speak up about how you are feeling. Mental health is just as important, if not more important than taking care of our physical health.
To begin with, it’s easy to feel intimated by the people that judge those with mental health problems – you will feel embarrassed almost. But, once you start to be open and honest, you will find that others will be open back. The amount of people around me that have also struggled in the past is huge, sadly, but it makes me feel less alone and it shows how common these issues can be.
Over time, things have gotten better as I have had wonderful people around me to support me. Genuine, kind people, who are the only kind of people you need in life and they will understand, and will help. Anyone else isn’t worth the bother.
Where can you turn to?
Dorset Mind is a great place to start. Dorset Mind runs support groups and an accredited one-to-one befriending service that helps people regain confidence and social skills. The charity also provides mental health programmes for schools called Dorset Mind Your Head that supports young people, parents and teachers.
“We are not a crisis service, but there are crisis options for people; like the Samaritans and the new 111 Connections Helpline, the Retreat in Westbourne is a fantastic resource and the new Community Front Rooms will be hugely helpful too. Dorset Mind’s mission is to ensure that people know how to be mentally healthy and how to spot the signs of mental distress when they happen. We want people to know where to turn when they spot the signs in themselves or others. We are also one of the support options for individuals, alongside their family and friends. As a charity, we actively campaign to reduce the stigma around talking about mental health and, in particular, suicide, so that everyone can speak up when they need to most. “
Marianne Storey, CEO Dorset Mind
You can also visit your GP and they can put you in touch with the right people.
If you want to stay anonymous but just need to speak out, why not give The Samaritans a call on 116 123.
It may feel like right now there is no hope, no future that you want. But, it’s incredible how given the right support and guidance, life can turn around. Just when you feel like there is nothing else, don’t give up hope. Life can change dramatically in such a short space of time.
You just need to focus on one day at a time and to speak out. Please.
Thanks to our guest blogger…