• Sharan Dhaliwal

Transforming Men's Mental Health

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* Content advisory: This article talks about suicide, which some readers may find distressing*




Language surrounding Suicide

In order to help reduce the stigma surrounding suicide, we will avoid using phrases such as “commit” or “committed” suicide as it has a criminal overtone from previous years when it was illegal to end one's own life. We believe that it is important to stop shaming individuals who attempted or did die from suicide.


November is here and so is the chilly autumn weather so grab your blankets, a warm drink, and let’s discuss men’s mental health!


Did you know that every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide? Every year around 800,000 individuals take their own life. In 2020, men died by suicide almost 4 times more than women with the highest rate being amongst men aged 40 to 59.


Why is the rate of suicide so much higher in men? Research shows that men who align themselves more with masculine ideals perceive therapy more negatively. This can result in containing emotions until they surface in harmful ways such as anger, violence, substance abuse, or even suicide. Men are often conditioned from a young age to not express emotions, to be strong, and are told that expressing emotions is a ‘weak’ trait. However, that is not true.


Factors contributing to high suicide rates:

Suicide is a very sensitive and complicated issue with multiple reasons behind it. Due to the nature of suicide, it is not always easy to pinpoint the exact reason. Research has shown that certain groups of men are known to be more vulnerable to taking their own life. This includes men within the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous men, soldiers, and first responders. It was also found through research that men who are single, widowed, or divorced are more likely to die by suicide. Furthermore, deterioration of relationships are more likely to affect men than women, potentially contributing to the higher rates of suicide in men.


You may ask “why is this the case?” Well according to research, a possible reason could be that compared to women, who tend to maintain same-sex friendships throughout their lifetimes, men's same-sex friendships tend to decline around the age of 30. Of course, there are many other contributing factors to the high rate of suicide in men such as generational trauma, societal/gender roles and the pressure to “man up,” poor communication of emotions, substance abuse, financial pressures, death of a family member, physical discomfort, and more.


Research shows that men seek support for their mental health and wellbeing significantly less than women do. Professional help such as psychotherapists or psychologists can alleviate and reduce symptoms of depression and decrease the likelihood of suicide. We know that speaking to a professional and participating in reflection can provide mental clarity during dark times where one's thoughts and emotions feel confusing and stressful.


Research shows individuals who were having suicidal ideation and found mental health support, typically did so because of support from friends and family. Here are some signs to pay attention to in yourself and in your loved ones:


Signs of suicidal ideations:

  • Sudden episodes of anger and rage.

  • Reckless behaviour and taking part in risky activities with no concern for the consequences.

  • Communicating that they feel trapped and can’t seem to find an escape to their problems.

  • Self-harm including alcohol/drug abuse.

  • Becoming increasingly withdrawn and agitated.


Thoughts and experiences such as:

  • Everything is hopeless, there is no point in living life.

  • Everyone would be better off without me.

  • I’m physically numb and feel removed from my body.

  • I’m useless.

  • Taking my own life is my only option.

If you sense that someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideation, we recommend that you offer to support them in finding the help that they need. For example, you can help them research and select the therapist that is the right fit.


If you feel that you are lost in the therapist selection process, either for a loved one or for yourself, Relationship Matters Therapy Centre has an administrative team that is available to support you. It may take booking in a few free consultations with different therapists before you find one that is a match for you or for your loved one.


If you are looking for in-person therapy in Cambridge, you have come to the right place. If you live outside of the Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo area, we offer virtual appointments to any client who lives in the province of Ontario.


If you are ready engage in mental health healing and personal growth work in counselling, you can book a session with one of our clinicians by clicking here. In addition to professional help, it can make a significant difference to reach out to your loved ones for support and access one of the following resources when you need it:


Resources:

  • If you are in immediate danger, then please call 911.

  • To speak with a mental health professional one on one call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741.

  • If you are thinking about suicide, call Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • For indigenous peoples call the Hope for Wellness Help Line call 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online Hope for Wellness chat.



References


Bachmann S. (2018). Epidemiology of Suicide and the Psychiatric Perspective. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(7), 1425. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15071425

Health at a glance. Suicide rates: An overview. (2017, June 16). Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-624-x/2012001/article/11696-eng.htm

Milne Joshua Tepper Jeremy Petch, V., Tepper, J., & Petch, J. (2022, October 20). The suicide gap: Why men are more likely to kill themselves. Healthy Debate. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://healthydebate.ca/2017/08/topic/male-suicide/


Hayes, A. (2021, September 9). How to spot the signs of Suicidal thoughts. Men's Health. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.menshealth.com/uk/mental-strength/a25888693/suicide-signs-symptoms/

MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Male suicide: Risk factors, warning signs, and how to help. Medical News Today. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/male-suicide