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Why These Pornhub Comments About Depression Matter

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Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s Associate Mental Health Editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway. 

On Wednesday, Twitter user @kxthleen tweeted screenshots of a Pornhub user who was struggling with depression reaching out for help, along with the compassionate way other Pornhub users replied. In her caption, @kxthleen wrote, “tfw pornhub is more wholesome about mental health than twitter.”

In the tweeted screenshots, the initial comment, made by Pornhub user dddasss, said:

Guys, I have no idea why but recently, I’ve been feeling really depressed. But I have absolutely no reason to be depressed. I am actually not joking. I really need help. I have a loving family, great friends, good grades, but I’m fucking depressed for some reason.

The thread was commented on by other users, who offered him (or her) support:

You have a loving family and friends dont be afraid to ask them for help. You’re not alone <3

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help man. I’ve been there and asking for help was the hardest damn thing I’ve ever done but it saved my life. Good luck (:

I’ve been feeling the same way, man. Like WalkerTexasNutter (great name by the way) said, find someone to talk to. The brain is a funny thing, and sometimes shit gets imbalanced up there. Don’t let it cut your life short. It’s not worth it. It’s never is.

If you’re like me, you may have seen this tweet and initially dismissed it because it involved porn — an industry that has long-been been linked to objectification of women and sexual aggression.

But this conversation isn’t about whether or not you agree with porn usage — in fact, it’s actually irrelevant. And while it may seem like a trivial thing to focus on this tweet when there are wider issues with internet porn, the reality is, these comments bring up an important point about where people look for help. This isn’t really about porn at all — it’s about getting people the help they need.

In a study on men and depression, it was found that not only do men seek help less often than women do, it usually takes them longer to realize something is wrong. While we cannot say definitively whether or not the Pornhub commenter struggling with depression is a man, it’s no secret the primary consumers of porn are male — studies put porn consumption rate in males between 50 and 99 percent. This trend is echoed in the demographic breakdown of Pornhub users (pictured below). According to the chart, 76 to 83 percent of the site’s users are male and the average age of male users is 36 years old.

porn hub insights
via Pornhub insights

While we typically see a lot of suicide prevention campaigns aimed at a younger demographic, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular.

So why aren’t men getting the help they need?

This is a multi-faceted issue, but part of the reason could be that many men aren’t exposed to mental health resources, and don’t know where to go for help.

Pornhub has a predominately male audience, and as evidenced by the conversation above, some of its users are clearly struggling and looking for help. Perhaps mental health nonprofits can take this tweet as an invitation to consider some creative initiatives for meeting men right where they are — instead of hoping they’ll come to them.

If that means paying for mental health advertising on websites like Pornhub, so be it. If that means video game companies creating mental health campaigns, let’s get on board. If that means getting gun shops as partners in suicide prevention, let’s do it.

We can’t wait for men to seek out help for themselves, because the consequences of continuing to do so are very real. Men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women do.

Let’s meet men where they are (without judging them) and normalize getting help before they’ve gotten to a hopeless point. It just might save a life.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Screenshot via Twitter

Originally published: October 13, 2017
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