I watched a really informative and emotional programme last night. A Suicide In The Family (available on iplayer) followed Simon Jack who at 44 is now the same age as his father was when his father committed suicide. Simon set out to look at this subject.
Some of stats are incredible. Men in the UK are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. The peak period is in the 40s and it is now the greatest single cause of death in men under 50 in the UK.
Quiet simply the finding of the programme won’t necessarily stun anyone – Men feel that they have to “grin and bear it”, “pull themselves together”, “be strong”… etc. so they don’t reach out and talk to others about how they are feeling.
I’ve spoken before that a lot of my drinking was to numb feelings – I couldn’t cope with emotions. Now I have a great self help therapy group in my close friends in AA. I know I could pick up a phone now and say to one of them that I was feeling scared, or worried or depressed etc. and they wouldn’t judge me or try to fix me per se but simply let me talk and listen and offer perhaps their own insights into how I feel. 4 years ago I was going through one of my roughest times when I took on a job with a management consultancy company. In some ways I liked the work and the independence as a consultant dropping into a company rather than a full time employee but… I hated being away from home and the family and just the whole thing was really too stressful with travelling regularly etc. I found my AA friends simply invaluable in that process. Especially one of them who looked at me after I’d fired off a short burst of “I feel stressed/pressured/uncomfortable/out-of-my-depth… etc.” He just said “You can always change your mind”. Which in fact I did – I did stay a little longer on an assignment closer to home but I left after 7 months working for them to something that suited my desired lifestyle much better. I dread to think the mess I’d have been in if I’d not had that and had been still drinking… OMG!
I hope programmes like this will enable men to realise that to open up is strength not weakness and that as a society we encourage and support this and that it becomes the norm and that we see suicide fall down the charts as a cause of death.