It’s important for everyone to talk

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This week Holly Smart, Marketing and Fundraising Manager from Mid and North Essex Mind, talks about the shocking statistics in suicide rates in men in the UK and how talking can make such a difference.
Did you know that nearly four times as many men die as a result of suicide in the UK compared to women? It’s the leading cause of death among young people aged 20 to 34 years but the group that remains at highest risk is men aged between 45 and 59.
It is often concluded that one reason men are more likely to commit suicide because they are less likely to ask for help or talk about depressive or suicidal feelings.
David Cain, whose site Raptitude looks at how to improve your quality of life in real-time, hits the nail on the head: “You will constantly have people telling you, both implicitly and explicitly, that you have to be a man. What that even means, in the 21st century, I don’t quite know.”
I recently spoke to Dominic Tyler-Lovett, our Chair of Trustees, when filming for our digital campaign ‘Piece of your mind’.
I had little idea of Dominic’s background. In my head he was the big boss, a businessman, and through my own stereotypes, not someone I thought would share what he did so openly.
He told me of his own personal experience with a breakdown after splitting up with his ex-wife, Dominic said: “If I hadn’t talked about things I could’ve done something terrible and that would’ve left my daughter without a dad. I think it’s absolutely crucial that men learn to talk about their mental health issues in order to prevent doing something so terrible. In the case of men it’s a given that it’s more brave to hold it in but it’s actually braver to talk about it.”
Dominic had absolutely no problem with me sharing this information in this article – I have to admit I was surprised that a man had opened up so honestly about mental health, it was entirely refreshing. I grew up surrounded by the ‘get on with it’ attitude in men and I still see it now – men that think it makes them ‘soft’ to talk about how they feel, men that think it will open them up to ridicule from those around them, which sadly, it sometimes does. Now of course, I’m by no means saying every single man finds it difficult to talk openly about how they feel, but I do think society makes it difficult for them. The suicide statistics speak for themselves.
So what does it mean to be a man? Who cares! All I know is it shouldn’t mean you can’t talk about how you feel. Suicide is not inevitable, it’s preventable. If you think someone’s not doing too well, make it safe for them to talk to you, regardless of their gender.