What happens when there is a man you have known who has attempted to take his own life?
Shock, I think. The whys and hows will be uttered uselessly on everyone's tongues, the futility of it all. Why didn't we see it coming? How could this happen to someone we know so well? Why didn't he come to us, or attempt to say something? Tonight, my eldest son is trying to come to terms that sometime early Sunday morning, one of his best mates took his car and tried to end it all. The man's family are too shocked and devasted to comprehend, just spending the time trying to patch a time line together to understand what brought their beloved kin to this critical point.
So many men find it so hard to process why they feel so desolate, why they can't reach out. The truth is, there are many contributing factors; namely work, home life, physical illness etc that brings a man so low. Another truth is that male suicides account for 24-26% of deaths in the UK, especially when a man is in the 25-49 age range. It is true of the younger generation, too. In the past four years, Prodigal 2 can count three suicides, two of which were lads aged 18-22.
Some think suicide as cowardly, or being selfish - people who have obviously NOT understand the complexities of a distressed human mind. It is most definitely NOT weakness - most have been undeniably strong in the face of adversity, yet found that same strength fail them when they needed it the most. Specifically, they feel that the world is against them - even if they know that others love them deeply, quite often they are so numb, so cut off, that they can't feel that love or support. And I know that, in many cases, no matter how much people cared - it would never be enough.
What can we do to prevent this?
We can't TOTALLY prevent it, but we can most certainly reduce the risks. The Samaritans page asks us to be proactive in raising awareness of the issues. reduce stigma and encourage others to seek help before it comes to crisis point. Finding the suitable services that can aid good mental health practice.
- To all those people who find themselves in such a terrible place - we want to help you live your life again. We will do anything to help you get help. To see that there is a way forward, that tomorrow could be the start of a better day, a better something. Just try to reach out, because people really DO want to make a difference.
- To all those people who find that their loved one has chosen to end their life - no matter the outcome (survival or death), don't judge them, don't hate them, don't blame yourself. There was possibly nothing you could have done at that time.
- The one thing we CAN do is change the way that mental health issues are viewed - promote awareness and continually visible information in where to get outside help from qualified and confidential healthcare professionals.
As I update this entry, it is the emergency services intervention that has initially saved the man's life, though it hangs in the balance and we don't know the damage or what the future will bring. I conclude by sayimg that globally, Mental Health Awareness should be at the top of the public agenda.
Let us just set aside our prejudices and differences and break one of the last taboos - the silence and the heartbreak behind male suicide.