I met ‘Toby’ (name changed) at an Art Exhibition about 10 years ago. I was immediately drawn to his warmth and open-heartedness: he was a caretaker at a disused church that had been turned into an Arts Centre. Toby suffered from a number of physical complaints, as well as mental health disorders, that impacted his life daily.
As I got to know Toby I would often pop in to the centre to see him for a chat, say hello and have a cup of tea with him.
Over the years that I got to know him, I witnessed him have highs and lows and it was here that I really started to notice how little support there is available for people with mental health issues.
I had been travelling for a while and, on my return, wanted to give Toby a card I had been carrying around to give to him. I remember going past where he lived, thinking to pop by and say hello and give him the card, yet was feeling busy that day and left it.
The following day I heard Toby had committed suicide. He was found hanging from the roof in the church.
- “Suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 and 49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease.” (1)
- Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. (2)
- Of the total number of suicides registered in 2014 in the UK, 76% were males and 24% were females. (3)
- More than 55,000 suicides occur in the European Union each year, including more than 6,000 in the UK and Ireland. (4)
These statistics are indeed telling us that we, as a society, have got it very very wrong. Every one of these men is someone’s friend, brother, son or dad. Beautiful men, like Toby, each have so much to give, and are cutting their lives short though sheer desperation.
Is it not time as a society for us to listen to what is really going on?
And whilst we commendably see high-profile campaigns on driving safely, and testicular cancer, suicide – the biggest killer of men under 50 – is not discussed and highlighted as it needs to be. What are we doing as a society to have such high rates of suicide?
Unfortunately, from personal observation and from having worked in mental health, I can only see these statistics getting worse. Why? Because we are not addressing the root causes; we are still accepting the stereotypical images of what a man should be and not allowing and accepting men as they are, for themselves.
We all need to be starting the conversation and asking why are these suicide numbers so high? What can we do about it as a society to ensure people feel heard and then to ensure that there is enough true support? And why does this affect three times more men than women?
Is it because there is a deep, deep sensitivity in men that society just doesn’t allow for?
“Men are just as sensitive as women. If we keep expecting them to be hard and tough, they will continue to override their delicate nature.“
As a society, and in truth as a worldwide family, we are all longing for deeper connection with ourselves and those around us, and the simple act of listening without judgment can be such a huge support to someone who is struggling with their mental health.
We can no longer leave any stone unturned when it comes to looking at the root causes of these statistics. Just for starters, we need to look at all the systems we have in place – the education system, the legal system, the healthcare system – and look to why there is not a fundamental level of deep compassionate care at the very heart of their strategies, policies and procedures. No longer can we give up and brush statistics like these aside, as these men are our brothers, fathers, sons. They are our community.
Many men like Toby have ended their lives too soon, leaving family and friends devastated. To me this highlights the responsibility we all have for our mental well-being, but also the lack of support and connection we have with each other in society. We can no longer keep suicide isolated.
We are all responsible for saying no to loveless, empty systems and no to a society that dictates how a man should be. How many more men need to die? How many more have committed suicide in the time you have read this blog?
We are in desperate times and unless we fully acknowledge the problem and no longer distract ourselves away from it, then the number of suicides will increase. Let’s not allow that to happen, by starting to change the way we relate to each other now, and no longer accepting the imposition society imposes on men.
“What do men want most?
By Samantha, UK
- http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/15/suicide-silence-depressed-men, UK Office for National Statistics, Statistical Bulletin
- Esoteric Teachings and Revelations, Serge Benhayon, page 555
- Esoteric Teachings and Revelations, Serge Benhayon, page 560
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