In today’s Western World, there is an ever-mounting pressure on men to be the best: in their chosen field of work, to provide for their family, to have a flash house, and the latest car. And don’t forget, the kids need the latest gadgets, and overseas holidays too.
The pressure from society, to have the best of everything – weighs heavily on men’s shoulders. This combined with the ever-rising cost of living, it’s no wonder the suicide rate is at an all-time high. It is well known; the suicide rate is significantly higher amongst men than women. I often wonder why this is so…
Obviously, there are many varying factors that can contribute to such a fatal decision. However, I have to wonder if our obsession with being the best, and having the best, is a contributing factor? Or, as I’d rather suspect, is it more the failure to obtain such ‘glory’ that creates the sense of hopelessness? Striving to be, or have the best, can produce a wonderful sense of accomplishment and freedom, but, when one tries to accomplish this on the ‘back foot’, it is a recipe for disaster.
I see so many families getting in way ‘over their heads’ financially – living off credit to acquire possessions that are far beyond their means. It’s okay during the ‘honey moon’ phase of spending, but when the repayments start to mount up – so too does the pressure.
Although a lot of families have two salaries coming in, I still think that men carry the pressure more heavily. It’s societal normalisation that men are the primary bread winners, and I think men take on that role deep within their psyche – whether conscious of it, or not.
When the financial deck of cards start to fall, some men feel emasculated in their ability to provide for their family. It’s embarrassing to their self-proclaimed ‘manhood’.
When women have a similar issue, we tend to turn outwards: baring our soul to a trusted confidante. I feel that a lot of men do the opposite, and turn inwards – too embarrassed, and ashamed to share their emotional load. They say, ‘a problem shared, is a problem half solved’. I truly believe this and think this also contributes greatly to the high male suicide rate.
I used to work as an Undertaker for a Funeral company, and part of my role was to attend suicide scenes. I would collect the ‘deceased’ and transport them to the Coroner. I often had to explain the Coroner’s process to the family, moments after they discovered their loved one – lifeless. Many a time they would say to me “I knew he was stressed, but he wouldn’t discuss it with anyone”. The families often said, “If only he talked to me about it, we could have got through it together”. This highlights to me, there is still a ‘macho’ stigma surrounding men sharing their emotions.
To these men I say ‘we as women do NOT think any less of your manhood with the admission that you have feelings and emotions’. In fact, we wish you would unburden this unnecessary pressure. A problem shared, really is a problem half solved – share your worries with us. In finding a solution, two heads are always better than one!
If you’re concerned about the judgement from other men – remember, those men have bottled up emotions as well. They are probably silently praying, to unburden their own share of problems. It’s time for men to realise you are not alone! Everybody feels the weight of emotions at times. It’s a natural part of life.
Please surrender your pride; open your mind and share what’s in your heart. If you cannot open up to someone that you know, then please reach out to a professional counsellor, or psychologist. If you are in a more urgent need for help, then please call your local mental health hotline. In Australia, organisations such as ‘Lifeline’ and ‘Beyond Blue” are wonderful organisations that can assist you with your mental health.
Gents, in closing I’d like you to remember ‘what seems bad today, won’t seem so bad in the future – our troubles, no matter how bad, always pass!’.
Stacey Sellars is a regular contributor to The Successful Male Magazine.