Men’s health isn’t about your nuts, your prostate, or your lack of a hard-on. It’s about, quite literally, your life.
A group of experts spoke before lawmakers at the Massachusetts State House yesterday to discuss masculinity’s impact on health concerns. Men die 5.4 years, on average, younger than women not because we are incapable of a full lifespan, but because our cultural norms lead to riskier behaviors relating to seatbelts, boozing, smoking, and even mental health and heart disease.
From the Boston Herald:
Michael Addis, a psychology professor from Clark University, noted that men in America are four times as likely as women to commit suicide. Addis said poor trends in men’s willingness to obtain health care are amplified when it comes to mental health concerns. And the recent recession, which drove up unemployment particularly among men, exacerbated male suicide, substance abuse, and depression rates.
“We’re less likely to seek help for virtually every problem out there,” he said.
When Hanna Rosin wrote “The End of Men,” maybe she meant it literally—men’s extinction. Heart disease is the biggest killer in America and three-quarters of all death from heart attack before the age of 65 are men. Men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide.
The Good Men Project was inspired by all those guys out there suffering in silence, thinking they were the only ones who had lost a job, a marriage, or a child, struggling with work and family demands, with PTSD after serving our country, or trying desperately to go straight after a stint in prison. They’re not alone. We all, as men, are trying to find our way to a new model of manhood that works.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, however. Heart disease and suicide don’t happen by accident. They are the accumulation of years and decades of quiet desperation.
Until my mid 30s I always figured I was going to die young. I figured that it gave me license to take massively stupid risks with alcohol, money, and just about every aspect of my life. I didn’t think I could get sober. And I didn’t think I was worthy of a long and happy life.
It took hitting rock bottom, getting sober, and years of hard work before it finally became clear to me that I might actually live. The turning point for me was my kids and wife, who inspired me to at least try to be a better guy. And the men I met along the way kept telling me that I was not alone; they showed me by example that being a man didn’t mean being the asshole from a Bud Light commercial. I could be vulnerable and real.
To all those guys killing themselves slowly, or not so slowly, holding despair in the pit of your stomach because you’re too macho to let anyone know, this blog’s for you. You don’t have to die young. But you must have the guts to open up and talk about what’s really going on.