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Why Phrases Like 'Man Up' Could Contribute to Male Suicide

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We’re approaching World Suicide Prevention Week commencing 10th September, and men — particularly those in their late 30s or 40s — are the most at risk group. So ,I felt it was a good time to post a blog I’ve had in mind for months.

Some of the most destructive and disheartening things a male will hear growing up and throughout their life are: “Be a man,” “big boys don’t cry,” and one of my main hates — “man up.” These are poisonous phrases which can (and do) have a profound effect on one’s mental health.

These phrases can all be flung together under the banner of toxic masculinity. Perhaps this phrase is more commonly attributed to violence and misogyny; however, it is also used for these phrases that the vast majority of males will hear at least once in their formative years.

Men shouldn’t be afraid to show their feelings. It’s the bottling up of our emotions that can set you off on a road that will affect you and those close to you. The whole Yoda philosophy would apply: Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and so on. If you don’t show your feelings and bottle it up, it can lead to all sorts of other feelings — resentment, loneliness, inadequacy, etc.

It’s these feelings which can make, and without a doubt have made, some of us think: “I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to be here, the world is better without me.”

Those closest to me will know that, at my worst, I have been in precisely this situation. I have been at that point of no return. For me, part of the reason for considering ending my life, apart from some life circumstances, was that I felt I had no one to speak to. I felt alone, and this is in part due to the whole toxic masculinity ethos that still plagues society. Thankfully, something stopped me; I’m not sure if it was the thought of leaving my children or just plain fear, but I’m still here. I have had the same thoughts of ending my life over the years, but thanks to support networks and family I haven’t felt I would actually act upon them.

We as men shouldn’t be afraid to show our emotions. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak and share our feelings and open up when we feel it’s all becoming too much. It’s not a state of mind we can just “snap out of,” despite what people may say to you, but all it takes is that one chat to open the floodgates — be it a mate, family member, or a third party like the Samaritans or other equally helpful organizations. You’ll realize there’s not one of us out there who hasn’t felt alone, inadequate or insecure in ourselves.

It’s hard taking that first step to talking about how you feel, but when you do you’ll never look back. At least, that’s my experience.

I am man; hear me cry.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock photo via MrKornFlakes

Originally published: September 8, 2017
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