Mental health – not just a buzzword

Over the past 11 years, 84% of deaths by suicide were by men.

Despite the fact that the awareness surrounding mental health has risen, it’s impossible not to be shocked by the latest local information published covering this topic.

Over the past 11 years, 84% of deaths by suicide were by men. An interview published recently with the coordinator of the 179 helpline also revealed that, over the past year, calls by people with suicidal thoughts have also doubled.

So, why is this happening? The truth is there is no one answer to this question, nor a simple, uncomplicated one at that. There has always been a discrepancy in suicide numbers between men and women, and the cause seems to stem back to the different ways in which men and women are socialised.

Boys are often chastised for being ‘weak’ and ‘feminine’, if they show emotions, which leads them to bottle things up a lot more than girls do. Of course, unexpressed sadness and stress don’t just disappear because you ignore them or cannot tackle them healthily, and this, in turn, can make things feel unbearable.

The more safe and accepting a space is, the more that men will feel encouraged to share their feelings without being judged and misunderstood.

The importance of environment can also never be underestimated, which also leads us to the possible reasons behind an influx in calls to the helpline. While I do believe that more awareness of tools to help those who feel like they are struggling has contributed to more people reaching out, it’s hard not to also think about the factors contributing to making people feel more and more desperate.

Sadly, our country is the land of micro-aggressions, which, when seen on their own, don’t sound like much but, put together, make a Molotov cocktail even for those who feel like they are stable.

The constant traffic, overpopulation, overbuilding, lack of green spaces, a fading sense of community, and public services that are not remotely efficient are all factors which affect us whether we like it or not and if you’re already not in the best place because of relationships and friendships ending, or perhaps the death of someone close to you, the aforementioned factors can make you feel even more trapped, frustrated, and like things can’t get better.

If we are to see these numbers transform in the foreseeable future, we need to be committed to bringing about real change. If well-being doesn’t move into becoming more than a buzzword thrown about by politicians, I shudder to think what the next few years are going to look like.

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