A while back now, maybe 18 months ago, I did an instagram live talking about how we need to start breaking the stigma surrounding men and their emotions.
This issue is very, very close to my heart. Having lost my own brother to suicide and seeing male friends and family members struggle with mental health concerns, I want to do my part to help educate people around how to start a conversation and quite possibly save a life.
I wanted to share some statistics, some truth bombs and some strategies with you all - both men and women - so we can start a conversation.
Fellas - showing emotion and vulnerability is a MASSIVE STRENGTH, not a weakness! Not even a tiny bit!
We need to support our men - in Australia alone, we are losing 8 men to suicide every.single.day!!
This has got to stop!
There are anonymous service you can contact for support, if you feel you cannot talk to loved ones, or aren’t ready for that.
But please know - you are loved, you are supported and your emotions are allowing to be expressed!
Below are some of the statistics along with the list of, and the links to, some incredible organisations you can turn to for support and advice.
I've also outline some strategies (that I learnt while working on the phones for Lifeline) that you can use to help start a conversation with someone experiencing mental health concerns.
Some heartbreaking statistics:
- In 2017, 3128 people died from self harm.
- 2349 - that's 75% - of these souls were men.
- That's 6 men/day suiciding.
- Today - that figure is up to 8 - 8!! men each day in Australia are taking their lives.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged 15-44 years.
Can I ask a favour?
While were at it - can we please stop saying that a person committed suicide.
They haven't committed a crime, this term is very outdated and we need to change the terminology to say that they 'suicided' or 'took their life' or 'died by suicide'.
Services and helplines:
Organisations that are tirelessly working towards reducing the suicide rate to 0 and to break the stigma surrounding mens mental health.
Puka Up - they are committed to creating environments for every person to be able to talk openly and honestly about mental health, emotional well-being and suicide prevention without fear or judgement.
Gotcha4life - their aim is to improve the mental health of men and boys and save lives through better connections with friends, family and community.
One Eighty - their vision is for a future free of youth suicide. For local communities to band together to provide support and opportunities to openly discuss mental health.
Reachout - their mission is to deliver innovative e-mental health services that enable young people to take control of their mental health and wellbeing.
MindSpot - online assessment for anxiety and depression.
Hearth on my Sleeve Movement - Mitch's mission is to humanise mental health, one heartfelt story at a time.
Headspace - providing tailored and holistic mental health support to 12 - 25 year olds, with a focus on early intervention.
Black Dog Institute is dedicated to understanding, preventing and treating mental illness. We are about creating a world where mental illness is treated with the same level of concern, immediacy and seriousness as physical illness; where scientists work to discover the causes of illness and new treatments, and where discoveries are immediately put into practice through health services, technology and community education.
How to chat to someone about suicide:
1. Make sure you have the time to support them, if they need it.
2. Be gentle, yet direct, with your question. Ask them "are you having suicidial thoughts?" or "are you thinking about killing yourself?"
A lot of people, understandably so, think this sort of question will put ideas in someone's head, but if a person is having thoughts of taking their life, them having someone ask could be the chance they've been waiting for to talk about it.
Please don't ask them questions like "you're not thinking of doing anything silly, are you?" because to them it doesn't seem silly and they may feel judged and that they cannot open up to you.
3. Whatever their answer, listen with empathy and compassion and without judgement.
Let them talk. Let them express why they want to die. Talking can provide such a great release.
Listen to them. Don't tell them everything they have to live for, or that they're being dramatic or selfish etc. Don't try to convince them that their thoughts are wrong or tell them how much they will hurt their loved ones if they died.
They are in a place of deep hurt and in their mind, they may think that by no longer being here that everyone else would be happier.
Just let them talk.
4. Ask if they have thought about how they would die.
This can be a very confronting questions for all involved so if you don't feel able to ask this, seek advice from helplines for yourself or the person at risk.
If they have a plan and the tools in place to follow through, please contact a professional service and stay and talk with your friend until help has arrived or a plan to keep them safe has been actioned.
5. Once they have been able to talk things through with you. Ask them what they think could help with these suicidal thoughts. Look up the numbers for helplines and professionals.
6. Follow up with them.
Check in to see how they are doing. You don't need to be all doom and gloom. Even just a message asking how they are or if they want to grab a coffee/go for a walk/catch up.
You can find a more detailed guideline here.
Please share this with anyone you feel could benefit from watching/reading this.
Let’s educate and empower ourselves so we can live in a world that embraces displays of emotion 🙏🏻