Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK. More than a 100 people die of suicide every week yet no one talks about it. As a society and community, as teachers and parents, as friends and colleagues we need to educate ourselves, ask questions, demand better care for ourselves and our loved ones, especially the young.
Whenever filling out job applications, you are asked "Do you consider yourself to have a disability?". I've always said no. It turns out I did not of realised what a disability is. Perhaps it is a stigma or just the more obvious public image but when I say disability, my mind immediately goes to the logo on the disabled parking bays or people with special educational needs...
We have a duty to help both the current and future generations of young men, and that duty entails not only talking, but also action. Men need to be taught to prioritise wellbeing over perceived strength, and this teaching needs to begin from the first day of their lives, not after a failed suicide attempt.
Nobody has sung at me. I wasn't woken up with gifts, or breakfast in bed. I doubt there'll be a cake, unless the cafe at work decides it needs to use up all the eggs before the weekend. I'm going to work, and I'm continuing on with my day. But I am celebrating. I am celebrating harder than I celebrated my 21st birthday.
The truth is that men will speak to their barbers about things they wouldn't tell anybody else. The #BarberTalk program is being developed alongside top charities Papyrus and Pieta House to train barbers how to Recognise, Talk, Listen and Advise their clients. With this, comes the responsibility to remain confidential, provide a safe haven for clients and help them where necessary.
She had married at eighteen, was a mother at twenty-one. She was still in her twenties when the 1960s came along, still young enough to embrace the excitements of the new age. She fell in love with a colleague, but when she revealed this, I learned of the pressures that society and her family put upon her to give up the affair. She was sent to see a psychiatrist, was told, as iconoclastic women have been told through the ages, that she had lost her senses.
My brother and I saw Dad a few weeks prior to his death. We watched Star Trek: Into Darkness and he was fine; he looked good and appeared happy. I always thought of comedy as a way to help the healing process and to make awful things seem less awful, so I sometimes joke about how the movie was so bad it drove my father to suicide.
Men are far less positive about getting formal emotional support for the issues outlined above. Worryingly, in response to these difficulties, men are more likely to take risks such as drinking, fighting or gambling, trying to show that they are 'manly' when faced with adversity. In fact, this is likely to make their situation worse. The masculine ideal suggests that men should never be depressed, anxious or unable to cope. It is vital that we overcome this and encourage men to access informal and formal support earlier on, before they reach crisis point. With all this in mind, where do we go from here?