Ignore a problem and it will go away. How many times have we heard that? How many times has each of us done that? I would suggest more often than any of us would like to admit. This avoidance may be as insignificant as putting off fixing something around the house or washing the car. At this level, there are too many things you’d rather do: watch the football on TV, go out for dinner, take the kids to the park. Yes, it’s all too easy to ignore a problem when life and living get in the way. But, what happens when life and living are themselves perceived as the problem? A problem so large and heartbreaking. The statistics demand we should be paying much more attention:
- Around the world, on average we lose a man to suicide every minute of every day. That’s 510,000 men each and every year.
- More than twice as many kill themselves than die on our roads.
- Suicide is a leading cause of death for men under 40.
- Three out of four suicides are men.
Why aren’t we talking about it?
Don’t turn your back, turn a page, close this window, or turn a blind eye. Male suicide is a problem that can’t be ignored. Indeed, this is such a serious and saddening issue that it should be at the front and centre of public discussion.
So, again I ask, why aren’t we talking about it?
Is it because of social perception and stigma? Is it because we don’t have the courage to confront it? Is it because…well, what reasons do you give? And when you do think about your answer, you should consider this: in your circle of friends, family, work-mates, team-mates, you will have someone, or perhaps several people or more, who are in a dark place, struggling with some form of mental illness and may need your help.
In his world acclaimed book, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, American writer William Styron wrote about the lack of understanding about depression:
“The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.”
Styron wrote that in 1989. Now, all these years and too many lost lives later, it could be tragically argued that those words still carry heavy meaning. We will increase awareness of the nature of this pain and how we can all help to reduce suicide by talking openly about it.
Think about the numbers again. Around the world, on average we lose a man to suicide every minute of every day. Since starting to read this article to this point, someone’s father, son, brother, workmate, friend has tragically taken their life. The World Health Organization tells us that we lose more lives to suicide each year than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Think about all of the conversation we have about war, murder and natural disasters, the focus in the media, the attention given to reporting on these devastating subjects and debating solutions. Now think about how often suicide is discussed. How often we talk about something that is killing more of us than any other violent act. Something that takes twice as many lives as we lose on our roads.
How can we allow this to happen? As we near World Suicide Prevention Day I’m asking you all to think about the lives of those you love. All are priceless. And if you pay close attention, you might hear a voice or two that needs to be listened to very, very closely. Someone might need your help.
Male suicide. This is a social crisis that demands our immediate attention and action.
Why aren’t we talking about it?
It must change.
Lives depend on us.
Go to weneedtotalk.movember.com for more information on how to start potentially life-saving conversations and to find 24-hour crisis support if you need it.