The statistics are alarming.
Men are contemplating, attempting and committing suicide at ever increasing rates.
“In British Columbia, suicide is one of the top three causes of mortality among men aged 15 and 44.”
What is driving men to the depths of despair?
There is a link with depression and addiction. But I don’t believe these give the complete picture.
Thousands of men contemplate suicide daily. Most of these men do not suffer from clinical depression or physical addiction.
So what’s going on?
Studies are beginning to shed light on a larger problem.
Men are suffering in silence from feelings of loneliness and inadequacy.
Feeling inadequate can stem from:
- Not being acknowledged by any male figures.
- Growing up with an absent father or without a father figure.
- Being abused (physically, mentally, emotionally or sexually).
These experiences, and others, contribute to young boys believing they are somehow lacking in masculinity. They grow up believing that they are inadequate. This irrational belief continues to dominate their psyche and impacts their ability to form close relationships.
The typical cultural stereotype of masculinity includes: toughness, competition, lack of emotion and comparison with others.
We are brought up to believe the definition of a successful man is one who procreates, protects/provides for his family and creates wealth.
We compete against other men: for jobs, in sports, with women… it’s a win-lose proposition. Only the strong survive, the weak get crushed.
When we don’t believe we measure up to the societal and media encouraged norms, we feel inadequate. We feel ashamed for who we are.
The pressure and paradigm is forced upon us at a young age.
This isn’t a loneliness born of physical separation. This loneliness is derived from a lack of meaningful connection.
We live in a world surrounded by people, yet we feel alone. No one “gets us”. We are just one in a crowd.
We are taught from a young age to hide our feelings and innermost thoughts and thus are reluctant to reveal our sadness, confusion and uncertainty. And who would listen? We have first-hand experience of being berated and laughed at for sharing our feelings – we’ve done it to other men, and they to us.
Men live a life of quiet desperation until they rage in rebellion, or give up, becoming apathetic and live in despair.
I know this, because I too, have experienced that life of quiet desperation.
So how do help our self, and each other, out from the abyss?
There is no easy solution. Yet, there are steps each of us can take to begin the climb.
Reducing The Feeling Of Inadequacy
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Compare you only to you. Strive to be a better version of your self.
- Challenge your self. Learn something new or take up a lost hobby: a language, a musical instrument, painting, or photography. Remind your self that you are capable.
- Do more of the things that you enjoy, and be around people that raise your spirit – people and activities that bring fulfillment and joy.
- Tell others how much you genuinely appreciate them – for something they’ve done or who they are. Help others to feel more adequate.
- Become a mentor/guide/coach to a younger man or male youth – share your skills, knowledge and wisdom.
- Find your own mentor/guide in an older man. Use your interests as a compass to find him.
- Reach out to someone you trust. Share how you’re feeling and encourage them to reciprocate. If you don’t know someone, find a therapist, counsellor or public health professional.
- Find a Men’s Group/Circle where you can share and listen in confidence.
- Join a shared interest group of like-minded people – in-person or online.
- “Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression.” 
- Seek out quality relationships – those who have similar interests, and whom you share a mutual respect and trust. “The key with relationships is in the quality, not the quantity of those people. We just need several on whom we can depend and who depend on us in return”.
What’s critical is for each of us to first observe and acknowledge our feelings of loneliness and inadequacy, and then choose to take steps to minimize those unwanted feelings.
You may feel like a victim, as if you have no choice and are lost in a sea of humanity where no one cares.
But many men feel like you. It’s up to each of us to help our self, and each other, to feel valued and connected.
It’s about making better choices, ones that empower us instead of ones that demoralize us.
You are important. You are capable. You are not alone.
If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out and contact a Suicide Prevention Hotline near you.
or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
or Text Telephone: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
or online at http://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/
In the US:
or online at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/