Man Down | Jacob
Men’s mental health and suicide is something extremely close to my heart. When I look back on how society was when I was a boy it has changed drastically for the better and now more than ever, men are encouraged to speak about their mental health.. but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Suicide is the single biggest killer of Men under 45 in the UK with male suicides having consistently accounted for three-quarters of UK suicides since the 1990s. In a world where mental health is finally recognised on par with physical health, there is still a huge problem when the biggest threat to a young man’s life is himself.
At 27 years old I have experienced 3 suicide attempts, 2 resulting in the loss of a life and 1 resulting in a long and painful road to recovery.. all men.
Growing up, phrases like man up, don’t be a girl, grow a pair, boys don’t cry and so many more resonated with me, perpetually drilled into young boys by a society that saw male emotions as weakness. Even to this day I still struggle to cry, even though I know it’s okay, I am so subconsciously inclined to bottle things up, even when I want to let it out, I can’t.
Men are much less likely to speak to a friend or a doctor, feeling that their problems are theirs and not to be someone else’s burden. I have watched more times than I can count male role models in my life take extremely traumatic situations and push them deep down, unseen and unheard where they think it’s forgotten, when really it’s still there somewhere, festering away. but it doesn’t have to be that way and it isn’t all doom and gloom!
Statistics are lower than ever with the % rate of suicidal deaths per 100,000 citizens dropping down to roughly 10% from 14% when ONS began tracking the figures and statistics in the early 1980s.
More men than ever are talking, opening up, sharing their burdens, seeking help and taking their mental health seriously. You are not weak if you feel sad, you are not less of a man if you need support, and you are not pathetic if you cry. We need to normalise emotions within men and keep pushing to a world where we talk to one another and support each other to better days.
Life is tough, but a problem shared is a problem halved and speaking from experience; I would much rather have listened to their worries than have lost them.
So if you’re reading this as a man and somewhere it struck a chord, please reach out to someone, talk to a friend, or a family member, look for support groups like the amazing ‘Talk Club’, go to a psychiatrist; just don’t take your own life whatever you do and always remember, it’s okay to not be okay.