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The Men-tal State: Discussing Men's Mental Health
26 May 2021

The Men-tal State: Discussing Men's Mental Health

Risk Factors Linked to Suicide
Risk factors can include both the situations a person experiences and how the person is feeling internally. Though it may be easier to recognise situations and times when suicide is more common, understanding how someone is feeling inside requires a little more detective work. Some of the most common risk factors are as follows:

Using drugs and/or alcohol to help cope with emotions, relationships, the pressure of work, or other issues.
Social isolation or living alone.
Divorce or relationship breakdowns.
A history of physical or sexual abuse.
Depression.
Unemployment.
Loss of loved ones through trauma or disease.
Mental illness, particularly where this is related to depression and painful or debilitating illness or conditions.

Suicide Warning Signs
Making out a will or giving away possessions.
Inappropriately saying goodbye.
Making ambiguous statements like "you won't have to worry about me anymore", "I wish I could go to sleep and never wakeup" or "I just can't take it anymore".
Suddenly switching from being very depressed to very or calm for no apparent reason.
Preoccupation with death.
Statements like "You would be better off without me" or "I wish I was dead", talking openly about wanting to kill oneself.

If you notice or observe any of these risk or warning signs in your friends or family encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional. If they refuse you must endeavour and be persistent. If they appear to be in immediate danger and are likely to hurt themselves, do not leave them alone, remove any possible means that they can use to hurt themselves.

Why Do Men Commit Suicide More Than Women?
In addition to the above risk factors, there are few possible explanations as to why men choose to end their lives more than women. 

Gender roles - Men are told they need to be tough and that they should not need to ask for help. Such rigid gender norms may make it difficult for men to reach out and ask for support when they need it.

Undiagnosed depression - Men often do not disclose feelings of depression to their doctors. When they do, it is often described in terms of having problems at work or in relationships. Men also tend to describe their feelings as "stress" rather than sadness or hopelessness.

Men are less likely to seek help for emotional problems - Researchers suggest that depression is diagnosed less frequently in men because of the tendency to deny illness, self-monitor symptoms, and self-treat. Men may also be more likely to self-treat symptoms of depression with alcohol and other substances.

How Can I Help Prevent Suicide?
Watch for signs of depression - Symptoms of depression in men include irritability, social withdrawal, anxiety, loss of interest or pleasure, physical pains and complaints, engaging in risky behaviours, misusing drugs and alcohol, and being unable to keep up with normal daily tasks

Offer support - If you notice signs of depression, ask what you can do to help, and let him know that you are there to listen and help.

Don't ignore the signs - Avoid dismissing or making light of comments that indicate suicidal thoughts or behaviours. If you hear suicidal talk or statements, encourage him to talk to his doctor or therapist.

Getting help for people expressing suicidal intent or showing the warning signs is incredibly important. Help is available from a number of different sources, including doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and voluntary organisations.

Normally we finish our articles with a play on words or some sort of quip, but this article is different. It's to let the men reading this know that there is no shame in showing feelings. You are no 'less of a man' by opening up about your thoughts and feelings. Someone is always there to talk to you whether you realise it or not. 

- Robert K. Elder

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