Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in this country.
Can we just let that sink in for a moment.
The single biggest killer. It kills more men than cancer. Road traffic accidents. Heart disease.
As a cold hard statistic, this in itself is shocking. But when translated into real people with real relationships, we can begin to understand the terror and sorrow that underpins it.
We all know that men find it harder to talk about how they feel.
So when people ask me, ‘Why Calling Out The Men?’ I often use this statistic to help people understand that something very real is happening and we need to start talking about it.
This statistic has touched, directly or otherwise, every man, woman and child in this country. Including myself. I’ve had a close friend that took his own life. The men closest to me have all suffered with some form of anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. I’ve seen male clients who appear to ‘have it all’ but are completely lost with nowhere to turn and with no support network to catch them.
The reasons why men are taking their own lives are varied, opaque and individual. Yet behind this statistic is a very real code of silence that we must all learn to break if we are to do something about it.
The Masculinity Audit carried out by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and the Huffington Post UK states:
Work is the second biggest trigger point for men behind relationship break-down.
Working in the corporate world I was surrounded by Functioning Fakeaholics Men that appeared to be doing well but under the surface were drowning, terrified that if they opened up about how they really felt, they would be judged as ‘weak’ and unable to do their job.
The audit goes on to highlight how, even if they wanted to:
Men don’t even have the ‘language’ to talk about their mental health problems.
Psychotherapist Damien Ridge, a professor of health studies at the University of Westminster states
“Women have a whole history of talking about stuff with their girlfriends, family and so on. They open up and talk. There’s a language to talk about their distress,” he adds “Whereas men, [don’t] even have that language. They’ve got no training in doing that. Who do they talk to? They have to develop a language. The whole system is orientated towards treating women rather than men.”
We’re Calling Out the Men because it’s the men that aren’t talking and as a result, it’s the men that are taking their own lives.
In a system that is geared up towards treating woman, Calling Out the Men is a practical approach for men to feel better at work by giving them the tools, the language and the space to talk about how they’re really feeling, where they might be stuck and why.
Sadly, last week the Office for National Statistics posted figures that showed a rise in suicide for the first time since 2013. In 2018, there were 6,507 suicides registered in the UK, three quarters of these deaths (4,903) were men.
I’ve experienced, first hand, the tidal wave of devastation that ripples out from suicide. So this Suicide Prevention week, Calling Out the Men is my chance to do something about it.
If there are men struggling in your business, get in touch about our Calling Out the Men corporate development programmes, at firstname.lastname@example.org