According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 1,053 Coloradans committed suicide in 2012. This number calculates to a rate of 19.7 for every 100,000 people, a jump in the death rate of 16 percent from the previous year. Men accounted for the most deaths in 2012 with 810 suicides – a staggering 76.9 percent for the year.
The question that continues to confound us is “why?” Why are increasing numbers of people choosing to take their life? And why do “working-age” men (25 to 54 years old) account for the largest number of suicide deaths in Colorado? The statistics are staggering:
Men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for men 25 to 34.
50 to 65 percent of the time, male depression is undiagnosed.
90 percent of men who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental-health issue at the time of death.
Many theories continue to be researched, but one key to why men have such high rates may be related to their unwillingness to acknowledge mental-health problems or suicidal thoughts coupled with their common behavior of not accessing available health-care services. Let’s face it; it just isn’t “manly” to talk about your inner most feelings! Since the beginning of time, masculinity has meant being stalwart and emotionally isolated. Real men don’t talk about their problems, and they certainly don’t ask for help.
We know many men experience suicidal thoughts, believe they are the only ones and become hopeless as a result. We also know there are many types of interventions and mental-health services that effectively prevent suicide. Treatment is available – we just need to help men access this treatment.
Fortunately, there is a new resource that helps connect men at risk for suicide with the interventions that can save their lives: www.ManTherapy.org. The goal of MAN THERAPY is to show working-age men that talking about their problems, getting help and fixing themselves is masculine.
The website uses an offbeat, humorous approach through a fictional “therapist” named Dr. Rich Mahogany. Dr. Mahogany is a no-nonsense man’s man who shows men that honest talk about life’s problems is how they will start to solve their problems. The website allows men to interact with Dr. Mahogany, do a “head inspection” (self-assessment) and get “manly mental-health tips.” When men indicate their level of distress is high, Dr. Mahogany refers them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or “the Pros” (a vetted list of professional mental-health service providers).
The website is also a resource for people who know men at risk, with a section called “worried about someone,” and there is a testimonial library that shows men from many walks of life and how they have triumphed over significant life challenges. So check out the website and spread the news about a new and innovative approach to begin the conversation about preventing suicide and getting help.
Liza Fischer is the Office of Member and Family Affairs coordinator for Axis Health System. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 335-2206.