84 men die a week by suicide in the UK alone. We desperately need to change this.
I have suicidal thoughts everyday. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is on some level, actually ‘normal’. Acting upon, or making plans with those thoughts is not. Not talking about those thoughts and feelings is what gets you into trouble – and I speak from painful experience.
One of the fundamental issues facing us today, is that mental health problems among men, still carry a social stigma. We don’t talk about it enough. It’s strange when the statistics would show it affects such a large number of us men.
More than four in 10 men under the age of 45 in the UK have contemplated taking their own lives.
A staggering 84% of men in the UK say they regularly bottle up their emotions, with nearly half (44%) saying they suppress their emotions often or at least once a day.
This is even more prevalent in younger men, with 2 in every 3 (63%) 18 to 24-year-olds saying they regularly hide their true feelings.
“The simple truth of the matter is that if you are a man under 45 in the UK, the thing most likely to kill you is you,” says Simon Gunning, CALM CEO.
How can you help someone who’s at risk of suicide?
- Be alert – Not everyone who thinks about suicide will tell someone, but there will be warning signs.
- Be honest – Tell the person why you’re worried about them, and ask about suicide. Tell them you want to know how they really are, and that it’s OK to talk about suicide.
- Listen – Just listening is one of the most helpful things you can do. Try not to judge or give advice.
- Get them some help – It’s OK if you don’t know how; there are ideas on the Suicide Prevention Resources web page that can get you started.
- Take care of yourself – You may find it helpful to discuss your feelings with another friend, or with a confidential service.
Over a third of men in a recent survey by CALM said that they wouldn’t know what to do if they were worried about a mate.
A useful tool you can use to help someone is to follow CALM’s four steps from ALAN:
It’s important to ask open questions, like ‘how are you feeling’ to start a conversation. Show genuine concern and most importantly – don’t judge.
Then, actively listen. Let them speak. You don’t need to solve problems, they may just need to get stuff off their chest.
Once you’ve listened, help them make a plan of action and set some simple goals. Help them to recognise their warning signs, and what has helped in the past. Ask them what they will do if they feel suicidal again, how they plan to keep safe, and how others can help them with this. Write down the names and contact details of professionals and telephone support services they can contact during a crisis. List the steps they can take to make their environment safe, and detail a safe place they can go if they need.
Lastly, it is important to involve others that can help you and the person you are supporting – don’t try to do everything yourself. Build a network of support together with friends and family, identifying how different people can help. The Dadsnet can help be that network.
If you’re still unsure on how to start a difficult conversation, Movember‘s great website has a resource on how to have those important conversations here. Be sure to also watch their video on how to “Be A Man Of More Words” below:
What Do I Do In An Emergency?
There may be times when working towards safety with a friend is not possible. This might be if they are going to immediately act on their thoughts of suicide or it could be they have already taken steps to end their life. In these circumstances – seek emergency help.
If you’re with someone who has taken steps or cannot stay safe, accompany them to A & E (if you are able to do so safely) or call an ambulance to get you there.
This is the right thing to do. It is not a waste of emergency services time as some people fear.
If someone is having a heart attack the outcome could be death – just the same as if someone has tried to take their own life. Therefore, in this situation, calling an ambulance is the right action to take.
If you’re worried that someone cannot stay safe or has taken steps to end their life but is struggling to engage in help for themselves – call the police on 999. This also goes for if someone is missing. This is not to get someone into trouble – the police have the resources to find those who are vulnerable to suicide and get help to them quickly, working alongside other emergency services if needs be.
The police are all to happy to conduct a ‘welfare check’ in person and escort them to hospital if needs be. They also have mental health nurses based at stations across the country.
Where else can we go to for support?
Call 0800 58 58 58 between 17:00 and 00:00 every day or visit their webchat page here.
In the US:
If you are in crisis, call 1-833-456-4566 (4357) or text 45645. For more information about suicide prevention, visit Centre for suicide prevention.
Are you thinking about suicide? Here are 5 suggestions to consider:
- Wait. Decide not to do anything right now to hurt yourself. You do not have to act on your thoughts of suicide. Suicidal behaviour is an attempt to solve what feels like an overwhelming set of problems. When we are struggling to cope, our mind closes down on creativity and our problem solving skills become much more limited. Your thoughts and feelings CAN change.
- Talk to someone; it could be a friend or family member, or a support service of some kind. There are people who want to listen and who can help you.
- If talking is difficult, there is online support here and with the links above. Someone who wants to help you is just a click away.
- Try to keep yourself safe for now.
- Spend some time thinking about what your reasons for living might be.