Suicide And Masculinity

In a society where we are more aware about mental health issues more than ever before, suicide is still very much a taboo subject. Initially I was going to make the final piece of the suicide series a poem, but I’ve chosen to take a different approach, and instead it shall become a very personal piece.

As some of you might be aware, I have contemplated and attempted suicide previously in the past. It was a time where life seemed without hope, filled with despair, and I honestly thought the world would be better without me. I would spend hours imagining my funeral, convinced that those around me would be better off and happier with me dead. Then there was the added pressure of being a man. Suicidal thoughts as a man, are seen by the man experiencing them himself, as  a sign of weakness. It is something that you cannot freely admit to your loved ones, or indeed other men. The innate fear that others will consider you less of a man, often causes men to keep these thoughts to themselves, and in the end, they pay for it with their lives.

Masculinity is something that is hard to understand, it is such a vague concept that drives you almost from the moment you are able to have a cognitive thought. There can be no sign of weakness,  as a boy you take example from the men that surround you growing up, if there is no emotion shown, then any emotion shown by you, you perceive it as weakness. When you are depressed and suicidal, this is a rather dangerous situation. You begin to perceive the men around you as stronger, and more masculine than you will ever be. You can’t really talk to them because in your mind, they will think less of you than they already do now.

This becomes a rather viscous cycle. Success is something that is very important to just how masculine a man feels. Failure to bag that promotion, or get that job, or even bring in as much money per month as you had hoped, begins to eat away at your ego and self worth. You start to ponder the thought of just how needless you are to your family, and how much they would be better off without you.

These are all thoughts I’ve had to deal with in the past, and sometimes, even in the present. I have pondered before whether my children would be better off with somebody else as a father, someone who would not fail them as I have perceived myself to do so. By not being as successful as I had hoped, I see myself failing them daily.  By not being to buy them every thing their hearts desire, I have seen myself failing my children.

Men traditionally, have been seen as the bread winners, the strong ones in challenging times, the rock that anchors the family together. In today’s modern society, there is the emergence of equality within the family unit, and within the workplace, and there are some men who struggle with this, and who feel emancipated by it. There are some men who struggle to find where they belong in society, since the traditional role is no longer theirs, and it is these men, who can often verge towards suicidal thoughts.

Personally I have always believed in gender equality, I have always thought that what matters is your aptitude rather than your gender. Family units for me have always been equal partnerships, so the worry of not filling the traditional role in society has never been something that has plagued me. What has plagued me however, is the lack of stoic emotional strength. I have never been able keep my emotions guarded or hidden like other men, I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, and I have always perceived this as my sign of weakness.

The issues I’ve highlighted here are just an example of what can push someone to suicide and suicidal thoughts. I’ve taken the viewpoint of a man since that is what I am, I would have loved to have written about the female perspective of suicide, and perhaps I will do one day, but being a man I have little experience on the pressures that women face that can drive them to suicidal thoughts. Either way, I hope that this series on suicide will have helped raise awareness for those who suicidal thoughts are an endless daily struggle.

Until next time,
The Raven



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