Real Men Don’t Talk?
Spotting a sign stating “Real Men Don’t Talk” on the back of a ‘matatu’ (a minivan taxi in Kenya), this got me thinking: why should ‘REAL’ men not talk? The last time I checked, this was the 21st century and not back in the Stone Age where patriarchy was the way. Society has created robots out of men who believe in not having feelings and to just carry on with their lives like nothing has happened; no expression or emotions at all is normal.
According to a blog on Psychology Today “Why He Doesn’t Want to Talk About It (A Developmental Perspective)”, published in December 2018, men and women communicate in different ways; this goes as far back as elementary school where groups of boys and girls hung out separately and parents also added to the factor of socialisation.
Growing up and even today I hear adults telling boys “Stop crying like a girl!”, “You’re a boy, toughen up!” or “Be a man!” whatever that means. This is ingrained in them that showing emotion is a sign of weakness.
Why are suicide rates higher in men than women?
Around 77% of suicides are men, three times higher than women, due to mental health conditions and depressive disorder, with the highest number between the ages of 40 and 45. Why is it higher in men then women? Women are more inclined to talk openly about their feelings rather than internalising them and resorting to emotional crutches such as substance and alcohol abuse to drain away sorrows and distress, they are emotionally connected. With men it is different, they live in the fear, shame, or humiliation it would bring if they ever admitted to having depressive or low moods.
What social factors drive men to contemplate suicide?
Relationship breakdown is a major factor, this is more devastating for men than women because women have a good support system, be it family or friends. Due their pride and not to show a sign of weakness, men rarely speak about the issues they face, they prefer to deal with the problem by themselves and not to burden others with what is going on internally. Other factors include women no longer depending on their partners due to the ever-changing role of women in the society.
Photo by Derana Std on Canva
In August 2014 the world was left shocked after the news of Robin Williams’ death. Here was a man who had it all going for him: he made the world laugh, who knew what emotions were internalised? Would the support have been there if he had reached out for help? What must have been the internal turmoil he went through to take such a step? It really does take desperation to commit suicide and to be at a low point where the victim does not see any other way out. One could live a lavish lifestyle, be wealthy, be famous, be impressive in the looks department or have a caring family but can still suffer from depression.
This is a humble request for all the men out there, before you think of suicide, please think of all the people around you who care for and love you. You may be gone but you will leave a big void making your loved one feel guilty for the rest of their days thinking “What if?”, if you had only just asked for help. Change that “What if?” to “How can I help you and I am always there for you” by reaching out to them. Some of you may find it difficult to speak to a loved one, a friend, perhaps reach out to a counsellor, sometimes it is easier talking to a stranger as there is no judgment, it is a comfortable and secure environment with an element of confidentiality.
Let us encourage the male population to talk about their internal upheavals that they may feel unable to express. Let us encourage them to let go of their ego, their pride and to reach out and seek help, it will not make them a lesser man. Let us encourage them to let go of the shame or humiliation they envisage they would face if they came out and talked about what is bothering them. Let us move from the mindset of Real Men Don’t Talk to REAL MEN DO TALK!
Look out for warning signs in friends, family, colleagues, all genders and others on all walks of life:
- Speaking about dying or death
- A sense of disconnection, helplessness, and/or anger issues
- Drugs and alcohol abuse
- Feeling isolated and internally withdrawn
- Mood swings
- Giving up on activities that they previously loved
- Talk of being dependant on others and not wanting to be a burden on them
Mental Health Helpline
“NHS 111 online service, or call 111. You may be able to speak to a nurse, or mental health nurse, over the phone. A GP can advise you about helpful treatments and also help you access mental health services. You may be able to refer yourself to some services.” Google.co.uk
National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) – Suicide prevention Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En español 1-888-628-9454. Call 911
Feel distressed and need counselling and psychological support call 1199
24×7 toll-free mental health rehabilitation helpline ‘KIRAN’ (1800-599-0019)
If you have a Mental Health Helpline in your country then please share this information in the comments below.
By Kiran Kaur
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