A few years ago, during Men's Health Week, I was interviewed by a radio station to discuss the high suicide rate amongst men. It was a troubling fact that men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and yet men are less likely than women to seek help via things like counseling. The interview took place many years after my dissertation was published (a link to this can be found below). Sadly, even today, we face a similar reality.
“Women seek help — men die” (the words of Jules Angst and Celile Ernst). This is a blunt way of summarising the statistic that suicide is the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20 to 45 (in the US there are 3.53x more male suicides than female suicides). To seek help, to share the burden, implies that we are admitting defeat, and that we do not have the strength. “We are less of a man.”
Instead of seeking help, the statistics suggest that men deal with distress in other ways -
In an article in the Guardian Matt Haig quoted from the book ‘White Noise’ (Don DeLillo): ‘What could be more useless than a man who couldn’t fix a dripping faucet - fundamentally useless… to the messages in his genes?” And Haig added: “What if, instead of a broken faucet it is a broken mind?”
We need to normalise the concept of a man seeking help. To seek help for emotional distress is just about as normal as a man fixing a tap!
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Chris Warren-Dickins LPC , Licensed Professional Counselor in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Sessions are available in-person, or online
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