The pastor at my church this past Sunday mentioned a very startling statistic in his sermon. White middle-class men are dying by suicide at an increasing rate. The article in the NY Times also sited that “the mortality rate for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high school education increased 134 deaths per 100.000 from 1999 to 2014. Dr. Deaton (who conducted the study) was looking at statistics on suicide and happiness, skeptical about whether states with a high happiness level have a low suicide rate. (They do not, he discovered; in fact, the opposite is true.)
Why is this happening and what can we do to prevent this? I think it starts by telling the men in our life, especially our young boys, as they enter the teen years, that there is no shame in seeking help for depression and anxiety and to reassure them that as parents, we are there for them anytime they want to talk or choose to seek out a counselor to talk to. The 18-24 year-old age group is most at risk for suicide. This is the time when we are sending many kids off to college or they are going off to live on their own. It is important that you have had a talk with your children before sending them off to school and make sure they know where the college counseling center is on their campus.
Take note of the men in your life and don’t be afraid to ask them how they are feeling. A great site to refer them to is mantherapy.org. Man Therapy is a website led by “Rich Mahogany” and he walks men, in a comical way, through their feelings and connects them to support via a telephone hotline to seek help in their area.
Whatever you do, don’t do nothing.