When we think of suicide, we often imagine a depressed teenager. They are volatile with unpredictable hormone levels and are the face of mental turmoil. However, middle-aged men are actually the rising statistic in death by suicide.
White men, in particular, are rapidly becoming the most at-risk group for suicidal actions. A variety of factors are contributing to this issue, predominantly relating to societal and cultural norms. Regardless of the reasons, it is important that we take action if we feel concern for the mental wellbeing of a loved one. Here are a few ways you can work to prevent suicide in middle-aged men.
Seek Professional Help at First Warning
The common underlying causes for suicide in middle-aged men are connected to societal norms. Men are expected to hold down good jobs, raise a family, and repress emotions that are not anger or carefully displayed happiness.
This means that when something goes wrong, he is essentially a ticking time bomb. If he loses something that contributes to his masculinity, like his job or money, he is very suddenly at high risk for suicidal actions.
When the issue is this complex, there is almost nothing an untrained family member can do. A crisis stemming from societal and cultural failures is often very deeply ingrained in the man’s mind and will need the help of a very well-trained counselor if the crisis is to be resolved.
If your loved one experiences something highly emotional such as loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or any negative life event, immediately seek help. Many emotionally repressed men have not been taught the necessary tools to cope with emotional upheaval.
If you feel you will not be able to convince him to attend counseling sessions, consider calling a suicide hotline for advice. Their 24-hour phone lines can connect you or your loved one anonymously to a trained volunteer. Though this is not a permanent solution, it can prevent immediate crises.
Encourage Emotional Sharing
A large part of preventing suicide in men is re-teaching them to be open with their feelings. Our culture raises boys never to cry, shaming them for emotions and creating volatile, repressed adults. If a man you know is struggling, gently encourage him to talk to you or another trusted loved one. If he can confide in even one person, he is that much farther away from danger.
Always remain calm, collected, and supportive. If you have a negative response to what he shares, you may simply be reinforcing the idea that admitting one’s emotions is a bad or shameful thing. If he divulges something you feel unequipped to handle, seek additional support whether it be professional or from other loved ones. Taking too much of another person’s burden onto yourself helps no one.
Tackle Any Contributing Factors
For many, suicidal thoughts come alongside other external issues such as addiction, alcoholism, or illness. In order to prevent suicide, it is critical that you treat these external factors first. Without first eradicating an addiction, for example, it would be nearly impossible to prevent suicidal thoughts as addiction is often a cause of suicidal thoughts.
One of the most common addictions, particularly in middle-aged men is alcoholism. Yet another facet of our culture dictates that men drink, particularly when socializing. This perpetuated habit then can lead to alcohol being used to cope with emotional problems, then leading into alcoholism. Getting treatment is the first step to a full recovery.
Preventing suicide in a group so negatively affected by societal expectations is difficult. Though white men are more likely to get jobs, be paid well, and receive an education, the mental strain is not diminished. When the culture prescribes repression of emotion, demonstration of aggression, materialism, overworking, and drinking, it’s no wonder the population’s suicide rates are rising. The best thing you can do is listen, get help, and seek treatment. Recovery is a long road but is always possible.
This blog post was written for pmtcounseling.com by a guest blogger, Steve Johnson who can be reached at:
Steve Johnson has always been dedicated to promoting health and wellness in all aspects of life. Studying in the medical field has shown him how important it is for reputable health-related facts, figures, tips, and other guidance to be readily available to the public. He created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow student to act as a resource for people’s overall health inquiries and as an accurate and extensive source of health information. When he isn’t hard at work in his studies, Steve enjoys playing tennis and listening to his vintage record collection.