TO THE MEN WE APPRECIATE YOU - PART ONE
Let us pray,
Thank you for the gift of life, creating each one of us in your own image, Father we live in a society where there are false perceptions that men can’t show emotions and are seen to be strong all the time which causes more damage than good in some cases, with no escape. Father may you help us to help encourage our brothers who are struggling in silence, feel they have no way out, want to end their lives, and feel alone.
As much as it is good to have people around you to talk and open up to not all men have that. I pray that this post reflects an overview of the concerns with you at the centre of it all. May they no longer live to please the perceptions of others. In your precious, mighty name I pray and say. Halleluyah.
This has been one of the heavy burdens on my heart and although it is very deep and sad I pray that as God leads me to share what has been on my heart. We live in a society where men are seen to be strong, hunters, wise, emotionless, to not cry or else they will be considered weak. So, with that perception many have grown up with this, taught to be strong, if they had no father figure, taught to go for what they want, to not be considered weak, taught to work hard and make money despite the fact they too suffer and go through things.
Taught to support their women even though they need the support as well, but struggle to speak up due to fear of their masculinity being looked down own. There are so many things I can only imagine they grew up being told and having to live by. Because it was like that and they grew up with it, didn’t second guess it or break the mould but rather lived to please those thoughts and perceptions unknowingly and knowingly.
I am saddened that in society in fact in the kingdom too that men are this figure that is not attached to crying and sensitivity and life’s troubles. They are men who are there for others and don’t always have others there for them because when they do have problems, don’t reach out for fear of being considered weak.
In training this week, we studied suicide and my heart was so heavy, though men was a heavy burden already, this week it tripled. I mean how can you go through life pleasing false perceptions, acting as if you have it all together, being strong all the time, not crying because of weakness, not asking for help for pain to be dealt with and not break?
The suicide statistics we looked at said men committed suicide more than women, the personal examples shared were also of men who committed suicide. When will all these false perceptions and cover ups stop? To not let more men be statistics and to let more men know that they are human too and will have feelings and that by the way, if they do cry it doesn’t affect their manhood, if anything it’s a respectable thing to show that they too need help to be better, not to be mocked or laughed at.
A few stats and sayings we looked over in regards to suicide-
Ø Number of suicides in UK increases, with male rate highest since 2001 ONS figures show 6,233 suicides of over 15-year-olds registered in 2013, 252 more than in 2012, and that the male suicide rate is three times the female rate.
- The rate of suicides in the UK increased in 2013, with the level among males its highest since 2001 and middle-aged men most at risk.
- Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 6,233 suicides of people over the age of 15 were registered in 2013, 252 more than in 2012, which represents a 4% increase.
- Hanging, strangulation and suffocation” was the most common method of suicide in 2013, accounting for 56.1% of male suicides and 40.2% of female suicides.
“We need to make it easier for men to find help without shame or stigma.” Samaritans’ executive director of policy, Joe Ferns, said the increase was “sadly not surprising to them given the context of a challenging economic environment and the social impact that brings on men.”
“We need to see a greater focus at local and regional levels on the co-ordination and prioritisation of suicide prevention activity especially in areas with high socio-economic deprivation. The excessive risk of suicide in men continued to be a concern. The rate for this group has now reached its highest level for more than 30 years … These figured cannot be ignored.”
Looking at the statistics and hearing people’s personal experiences, I tried to imagine how difficult and alone these men must have felt to have the idea to want to commit suicide, get the means of doing so, making the plan and executing that plan. It blows my mind how someone can place the rope high and gradually position themselves to end it all, it goes to show you how tough life can be that many never feel they have any other way, but to end it once and for all. Doesn’t matter the friends and family they leave behind, they just have it in mind to want to go and do it. To think that men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women says a lot. Words can’t fully express it, but it’s just so upsetting that many innocent people are no more because they felt trapped, alone, suffered and couldn’t speak up, all dreams and plans gone, family who will never see them again, and life experiences they will never get to experience.
In life, in different ways God has given me a head start with issues men face, I have had male friends in the past ask for advice and open up to me, but it wasn’t always easy for them because you must remember that behind their appearance are broken men who have always ignored how they feel, what they want and how to go about it because of false perceptions. Now that I am training and meeting new people this is where I will be dealing with men as well as women’s issues. It is giving the men a chance to feel safe, open and secure in the space given to them to be free to express with no one watching and for them to know it is okay to cry, ask for help and say they are struggling. It makes them no less of a man if they say this, and if people disagree they are the ones who need to look at their tainted views.
Loneliness and depression are two major reasons that can cause a man to not go on in life. In a state of depression it leads many to end it, they see it as a state of life they can’t win, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of black men are said to have depression. There are many reasons that can cause a man to feel low, depressed and isolated such as the pressure to make it, be the head of the family, the provider and be academically sound. Because let’s face it they can’t fail, or else they won’t get a good job, if they don’t get a good job, how will they find a good wife to marry and settle down, how will they look after the kids. It then becomes a ripple effect and what are supposed to be the great milestones in their lives then become the most pressurising stages to get right.
Many people are depressed, but think they are okay, whereas others know they are but don’t know the right ways to go about getting help and so live it out day in day out wishing, hoping, punishing themselves, becoming suicidal or withdrawn from others. It is like an up and down battle that if not fought the right way can do more damage than good regardless. Depression is not a condition you can wish away; you need to combat it and get help. Some signs that have been recommended to look out for –
- Disruption in sleep patterns
- Loss of interests
- Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
- Decreased energy
- Decreased concentration
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Irritability and restlessness or slower speech and movements
- Suicidal thoughts
‘About two-thirds of people who die by suicide will have had depression. Clinical depression is one of the risk factors for suicide, others include’:
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Personal loss (job, financial, relationships, etc.)
- Family history of violence and abuse
- Physical and mental illness
- Substance abuse
- Isolation or lack of support
The sad thing with men who suffer and those who go to the extent of taking their own lives, because they can’t cope are the family, friends and partners they leave behind who are clueless to why they would go this way. Questions they will never get answered and mixed emotions that may never go away.
In our African community, especially, a man is taught and expected to be strong, the breadwinner, the leader of the household and the woman the helpmate, mother of the children taking care of the household. But never is it acknowledged the struggles the men will face because it is not spoken of freely. Hence why many struggle in silence and when they die questions and confusion arises.