Men talk about their experiences with suicide


1st Jan 2015 Wellbeing

Men talk about their experiences with suicide

Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men between the ages of 20 and 49 in the UK. Let's take our lead from Professor Green et al.—it's time to talk about depression and get rid of mental health stigma.

Why aren't men talking about depression?

Mental health is never an easy subject to talk about, many people suffer in silence—male and female. According to a report by The Samaritans, UK men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women. 

There are a number of social reasons for this, whether it's simply harder for men to start talking about depression, or that over the course of the last 100 years, men's role in society has changed drastically.

Somehow, there is still a stigma associated with male mental illness. It's seen as emasculating—one should 'man up' and deal with their emotions internally. But it's these kinds of phrases and ideas causing the problem.

Clare Wyllie, head of policy and research at The Samaritans says, "Society has this masculine ideal that people are expected to live up to. Lots of that has to do with being a breadwinner. When men don't live up to that it can be quite devastating for them."

And sufferers also agree that the idea of 'masculinity' is impacting the way men open up. Jake Mills suffered from severe depression and even tried to take his life. Now he's a stand-up comedian with a show that centres around depression.

“I was going through depression and at the very same time my best friend was going through depression, and he didn’t tell me and I didn’t tell him. We’d go out and we’d drink and we’d just be totally normal with each other and neither of us knew”

He met up with The Guardian's Owen Jones on the Liverpool docks to discuss why he thinks the suicide rate is so high.


Understanding depression

"I went from thinking, 'he was a f***ing coward' to thinking 'hold on a minute what was he actually going through?'" British rapper Professor Green, aka Stephen Manderson, opened up about his father's suicide in BBC Three documentary Professor Green: Suicide and Me. 

It's an intimate journey to discover the truth behind his father's suicide, and a refreshing look at the subject with a fantastic shift from 'coward' to understanding, one that many find difficult to do. 

When Robin Williams tragically took his own life in 2014, the term 'selfish' began to appear time and time again on social media—a large proportion of people believed it to be a selfish act, to leave family, friends and fans like that. Such attitudes add to mental health stigma. In 2011, The Samaritans had this to say in response to Jeremy Clarkson's "suicide is selfish" claim:

“His notion that suicide is a selfish act shows how little he knows about the subject because, if he did, he would know that when a person attempts suicide they are so distressed that they genuinely believe their families will be better off without them. The concept that their actions could be construed as selfish is the furthest thing from their mind. Fortunately, most of us will never experience the mental torture that leads someone to die by suicide."

It's important to remember that depression is an illness, it does not discriminate, and it is certainly not logical. 

The following video contains some strong language


Men talking to other men

"It's so difficult to talk about if you haven't got the right people to talk to about it. I come from… Well, it's a working class background. My granddad worked in the pits. My dad started as an electrical engineer. I've been brought up that we don't express emotion, because of I've never told anyone that I've had suicidal thoughts. I've told them recently, but for a long long time, as a man, you just don't." Lee Rohan has struggled with depression for most of his adult life.

In this video, he and his friends discuss suicidal feelings and the difficulty they had finding someone to talk to. 

It's in their opening up that we see similar experiences—no one is going through mental illness alone. According to mental health charity, Mind, one in four people have a mental illness and 17 in 100 people experience suicidal thoughts.

There are people to talk to, and some of them are men!

Reader’s Digest has teamed up with AXA healthcare to help people stay healthy. We’re here to educate and offer hints and tips on how to prevent illness.

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