Dr. Margaret Rutherford asks the tough questions about men and suicide so that we can more effectively get men suffering from depression to reach out to get the help they need.
“He’s killing himself”.
With work. With guilt. With alcohol. We have all described it. Watched it.
Now, in the last decade, men are literally committing suicide. In record numbers.
I am tired of it for them. For our culture. For our world.
Tired of it because it’s so incredibly sad for them. Tired because there are spouses, parents, friends and children who are left behind. Who loved these men.
I don’t want to feminize men. I value the differences between men and women. But suicide rates in the US are rising sharply, especially in middle-aged and older men. This New York Times article suggests that that perhaps baby boomers are facing issues not faced in prior years or have access to more deadly medications.
Whatever the reason, they are not seeking help. And dying.
I had a male patient once look at me after about 10 sessions. An attorney had referred him to me. His life, when first seen, was a mess. His anger had been a problem in his family. Now, things were not “fixed,” but much better. He was making far different choices. Had figured out and felt what was underneath some of his actions.
“I don’t know what exactly has happened here but it has worked. To come and get things off my chest. To talk about things I just didn’t realize were bugging me from a long time ago. Now so much of it makes sense.”
He had taken a psychology course years before. Had basically thought it was a bunch of hogwash. And said so. Frequently.
That same scenario has happened in my office many times. Men discovering that making connections with past hurts and trying to heal them can change their lives. Whether it happened in childhood. Or a relationship. In the military. Or a gang.
There are vast differences in what defines a man. Regional differences. Cultural. Spiritual. Probably traveling from county to county in some states, you would find what men say about themselves would vary.
Just as women’s roles are changing, so are men’s.
Something I noticed in the Super Bowl commercials this year was the preponderance of ads featuring men as Dads. Dove for Men’s commercial. ” What makes a man strong? Showing that he cares.” Sure. They were driving hot cars and admiring women with big boobs. But we are acknowledging as a culture that men have much to give to their families. A vital role to play.
If they don’t kill themselves first.
What is preventing men in 2015 from recognizing if they need help? And can receive it?
I asked myself what one psychologist in Fayetteville, Arkansas could do.
I can ask questions. I can have a conversation with men. I can interview men. About therapy. About why you might come to therapy. And why you might not come to therapy. About whether or not you would even consider that you are depressed or not.
I want men to tell me if they believe that they can be depressed. And if they would get help.
I have designed a survey. It’s anonymous. It will only take a minute or so. I am interested in hearing from both groups. Those who would. And those who would not. It won’t be entirely”scientific.” Not a randomized double-blind clinical study. But it will gather important information. I am asking bloggers and websites all over the country to run the survey. I have a team that will analyze the results and present them in several months.
I am hoping that if we understand more of the reason that men do or do not make certain choices, that we can reach out differently. Ask ourselves questions about how treatment is designed. Look for answers to the problem.
Here is the link to the survey:
Just click and it will take a minute or so to take.
If you tweet, please tweet this out:
I will not be able to tell you in person. But thank you so very much. Dr. Margaret
This post was planned and written prior to the Germanwings disaster and unbelievable tragedy. The perpetrator of that crime, suffering from mental illness, was seeking help but allegedly not using it well or appropriately. All our hearts grieve for those affected. I am also sure that those suffering from obsessions with fear of flying are having a hard time as well. Please care for yourselves.
If you have any questions or comments that you would like to address to me privately, please do so at [email protected].
This post originally appeared at drmargaretrutherford.com. Reprinted with permission.
Photo: Getty Images