According to statistics, suicide rates are higher among men compared to women. In Canada, 75% of the estimated 4,000 suicide deaths are men (Mental Health Commission, 2022).
Some men will share their suicidal thoughts with a family member or friend but some do not. There are several reasons why some men do not share their struggles and suicidal thoughts including:
- Cultural reasons – Some men are raised in cultures where they are not taught or encouraged to talk about their feelings hence, they do not know how to. Some also grow up thinking and accepting that they do not need to share their feelings and struggles.
- Social norms – Until recently, men were portrayed as upholding certain norms and values. They are often portrayed as displaying strength and not experiencing hardships or struggles. This image may be a barrier to men seeking support from others.
- Taboo – Some men are raised in families where they are encouraged to deal with their own problems and not to burden anyone else.
Some men feel anxious and/or nervous at the thought of speaking to a counselor. I often say to my clients that counseling is no walk in the park. It can be scary to meet and talk to a complete stranger about our struggles. Some men also feel:
- Unsure about what or how they should share their struggles
- Nervous about what to expect
- Anxious or stressed
Some men also experience barriers or challenges when trying to access professional support. These include:
- Working or living in rural or remote communities where everyone knows everyone and thus, if someone was to access counseling, everyone else would know
- Access or availability to services – some communities have limited resources hence, individuals may find themselves on a waiting list
- Working in a stressful or demanding profession where there may be little time to access counseling
If you know someone or are worried about someone struggling with suicidal thoughts, here are some steps you can take
- If someone discloses suicidal thoughts, I often ask if they have a plan in place to end their life, if they say yes, I ask if they have the means and finally I ask if they have a timeframe in mind. If a client answers yes to all of these questions, I work with them to create a safety plan
- If someone is struggling but not ready or able to access counseling, I share crisis line numbers that are open 24 hours, 7 days a week so when they are ready, they can access some support
- It can often help to determine what supports are in place for someone who is struggling. Sometimes when times are hard, we are not able to think about people in our lives who want to help and support us.
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs support please reach out.
Mental Health Commission (2022) https://mentalhealthcommission.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Mens-Mental-Health-and-Suicide-in-Canada-Key-Takeaways.pdf (Accessed 14th of July 2023).