At PAPYRUS we are aware that the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK isn’t heart disease, cancer or kidney disease – it is in fact suicide. 3 out of every 4 suicides are male. Even though there is an awareness of these shocking statistics, conversations about men’s mental health and male suicide rates aren’t highlighted very much in the media – unless it’s a celebrity who ends his life by suicide.
On HOPELINEUK we speak to men who are having thoughts of suicide every day. Often, we hear how they feel weak, ashamed and isolated because of their suicidal thoughts. These feelings impact their thoughts so much that suicide can feel like their only way to escape. We encourage men to talk and highlight that they’re not alone and that actually it takes amazing courage to call our service and talk to an advisor.
Lots of issues that people share with us are often linked to feelings of isolation and not fitting in with the world around them. Feelings of being the only one having to cope with what’s going on for them – these can drastically magnify their negative feelings.
We hear a lot in the media now about encouraging men to speak and reach out to others. This discussion is long overdue, but it also doesn’t go far enough. The onus shouldn’t always be on those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide to ‘reach out’ – surviving may be taking all their energy and strength. Instead, we need to encourage others, who may be concerned about struggling men they know, to ‘reach in’ and listen to their instincts – is something wrong? Do they need help and support? Might they be thinking of suicide? It’s crucial that this sort of thinking becomes second nature for us.
Often, through talking about their thoughts of suicide, people can realise they have stopped doing things that uplift them. Sometimes a thought about reconnecting with people they used to see or hobbies they used to enjoy can change their tone of voice, it can start to lead to change. They can see how there may be safe ways of escaping those thoughts. We call this escapism and even if they can manage to reconnect for a short time with this part of their life, that may well have lapsed, this will allow them to clear their thoughts just enough to think ahead and face the next day.
Listening to life stories and understanding them as much as we can – this is a massive part of what we do and people show a lot of strength and determination to plough through the most extremely difficult times. When people share their journey with us, we can listen from a place of understanding. This is one way to support them, which may help them progress with their life.
Here on HOPELINEUK we have found the feedback from the men who have managed to use our service to be very positive. They explained that talking through their thoughts of suicide with an advisor – who really had the time to listen – had a very positive impact on them and how they looked at their life.
It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed in life when you are having thoughts of suicide but we are here to listen and understand. If you feel you need support then please call HOPELINEUK.