Far too often the community is hit with the tragic news that an individual has committed suicide. This is not an easy subject to discuss, however it is too important to ignore. The painful feeling for those left behind is grief, loss and often total bewilderment as to what drove their loved one to suicide. The question of "why?" and the total devastation felt in the aftermath of suicide are life lasting.
In recent times our community has borne the brunt of drought, bushfires, flood, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic hardship and mass unemployment. These are difficult times for everyone. Sadly, statistics show that men experience suicidal thoughts and attempts at a higher rate than females. Every day, six men in Australia will tragically end their lives - each year that is 2,190 men who lose their battle with mental illness. That's 2,190 families and loved ones left without fathers, brothers, uncles, sons and mates.
It's time men understood that they're not forced to go through the trials and tribulations of life alone - all they need to do is speak. As the proud patron of the Australian Man Cave Support Group, I have seen how an act of compassion from a stranger can save a life. The "Man Cavers" do a tremendous job at breaking through barriers surrounding men's mental and physical health.
One of the mantra's of the Australian Man Cave Support Group is #itsnotweaktospeak. This mantra should be one that we should all foster and promote to lower the shocking rate of suicide of Australian men.
The difficulties we face as a result of COVID-19 mean everyone, including men, are feeling at a loss and unable to comprehend the circumstances of this pandemic. While we are all experiencing similar problems of anxiety and fear, many men feel the additional burden of believing they will be stigmatised by expressing feelings of isolation, worthlessness and being unable to find a solution to their problems. They fear any display of vulnerability will question their masculinity. This may result in dark thoughts they most likely do not wish to experience, let alone express. While these may be personal judgements men place upon themselves, they must be explored in an environment where expression is encouraged and free from judgement.
As a community, we must be aware and raise awareness of the soaring rates of male depression and suicide. The pressures placed on men can be daunting. Particularly as it is widely expected that men must constantly show their strength - "come on mate, be a man" is one of the many sayings deeply ingrained in our societal expectation of men.
It is crucial that we as a community continue to raise awareness during this pandemic and beyond. Speaking out and supporting men to express themselves is vital. Men may not be accustomed to expressing their feelings and emotions which can create resentment. Continuing to supress these feelings out of fear there is no outlet to express them can lead to a disastrous loss of life. I encourage us all as a community to work through the barriers that exist and support men in need to speak up. Let's reinforce that #itsnotweaktospeak.
If you, or anyone you know, needs support during these troubling times please call TAMC on 0424 849 811.