Talking to Men About Suicide

Two men talking to each other about emotions

Talking to Men About Suicide

Most men are silent grievers. They hold their emotions very close to their hearts and they avoid anything or anyone that makes them reflect on what they have lost. It costs too much to connect with their pain.  After all, we hold a strong myth in our Western culture that men can’t cry, or they are thought of as weak or unmanly.  We do a great disservice to our men and boys when we do not teach our men that it is ok to feel, to cry, to grieve, and “to be ok with not being ok”, to coin a phrase from Meagan Devine. When we do this, we cause a distorted emotional unhealthiness that can erupt at any time into complex post-traumatic stress disorder or many other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or physical ailments throughout the body. The result of this emotional stuffing can lead some to contemplate suicide as a way to ease their suffering.

I know this is a tough topic. However, talking about how someone’s suicidal thoughts can help ease their burden. The silence is broken. The truth can set the person free from carrying such a heavy burden alone. When we approach the myth that talking about suicidal thoughts might cause someone to commit suicide, we open the door to share the pain and suffering that someone is carrying. Suddenly they are not alone, isolated, and cut off from comfort. That is a gift we can give to our men, fathers, brothers, uncles, and sons.

Talking is so important. It doesn’t cause suicides, it prevents them! Approximately 15 out of every 100 teen boys have seriously thought about suicide to end their pain! (Teen Suicide Rates, Statistics, and Facts | HealthyPlace) Teen girls are significantly less likely to plan suicide but more likely to follow through on an attempt.

The most significant conversation you can have this month is to ask your man, teen, or other males in your life how they are doing. Be that place of safety where they can be honest with how they are feeling.  It only takes someone caring enough to start the conversation and help them connect to their grief. If you aren’t sure how to start the conversation you can start with this article. Mention that you read it and ask their opinion. Talk about what you believe about suicide or the myths that we all hold about how someone is really doing.  Be ok if they say they aren’t ok! Reassure them that they will be ok eventually.  Cry, laugh, talk, and break the silence of not talking to our men and boys about emotions! It is perfectly normal to cry, even for a man, when their heart is hurting. Let’s normalize showing emotions as being strong and manly and unburden our men and boys from the myths!

June is Men’s Mental Health and PTSD month. As we gather this month to celebrate our dads, fathers, and significant male role models or mentors, let us remember those men that are no longer with us physically. I want to celebrate with you those moments that you remember that significant relationship in your life. I know that it might still be very raw to remember them, but I want to challenge you to do it anyway.  Reflect on how much of that person is still with you in your life and honor your man with memories or a celebration of their life and how they contributed to who you are now, even in your grief.

Written by Kimberly Talmey, RPC-C

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