Image courtesy of Nevada Tumbleweed
We’re sure Fern was simply trying to highlight the terrible scourge that depression can be when she talked about the issue. However, by labeling suicide as a ‘brave’ action she has simply re-enforced the pressure upon men – who commit 76% of all suicides in the UK– to continue to bottle it up. Because society states that real men don’t have problems, real men are always in control, real men are silent.
We’re sure Fern regrets her comments, and didn’t really mean to give the green light to all those men who are at the moment feeling that they’ve not place left to go but undertake a truly hideous act. Because unfortunately that was a truly terrible thing to say. In reality, a really brave action would be for be for those men hitting a low point out there to instead ask for help and talk to someone. Because that’s just what society encourages them NOT to do. A brave thing to do would be to buck the trend, and stay.
Because if they do look for help, it IS there for men. Not everyone expects men to be always in control. Strength isn’t about never having problems, it’s the ability to act on problems and find routes through them. There are people and organisations there for them that are only a call or click away.
It’s great that people are talking about the realities of depression and anxiety, that the moments in life when you can’t see a way forward and it get’s too much is discussed openly and not bottled up, but suggesting suicide is brave is not helpful.
Now, we know how the media works, we know that one phrase, in the middle of a 2 hour conversation about a wide range of other subjects can end up becoming a headline, and we’re sure Fern did not mean to promote this idea specifically, however, now that this idea has been splashed across The Sun, The Mirror, Heat & The Daily Mail we think it’s best that we make our stand point clear.
Can you imagine standing in front of the families and friends of 900 + young men who took their own lives just last year and telling them that their loved one was brave? Do you think they’d agree?
Depression can be treated, managed and overcome. The point is that we need to give men the message that they CAN seek help. Right now the message they get is that to be ‘real’ man, they should be strong and silent. To compound the problem by calling suicide brave helps no-one, not least those depressed.
The fact is more men kill themselves than women (5681 suicides in the UK in 2009, 4674 of which were male) not because they are ‘braver’ (which just reinforces stereotypes) but because in their darkest hour they don’t see that they can ask for help. By definition men aren’t supposed to need help. How about you help us answer some calls Fern? Come and see what we do, see what projects we’re developing and what other peoples experiences are, and see just how and what impact stereotyping has on the suicide rate.
This myth of braveness can, and is quite likely to now, cost more lives and result in more families having to suffer the trauma of losing someone. The message that many may read from this media frenzy is, “if you’re considering suicide, maybe it’s a good idea”. Let us be very clear, it is not, it is not brave and it is not your only option. You can get back to enjoying life and you can come out of the other side of this stronger and better. Be brave, and pick up the phone.
Being Silent Isn’t Being Strong or Brave – it’s being a victim.