Friday 13 October 2017

Suicide- It's Not Just a Man's Problem

Suicide- It's Not Just a Man's Problem depression OCD anxiety help support death facts stats

Warning: This post contains detailed descriptions of suicide. 

Suicide is suicide. It doesn't matter if your black or white. A child or adult. Homosexual or heterosexual. Male or female. Suicide is a tragic and devastating sociological problem which 6,188 people felt like they had to result to in 2015. (source) But of course, it's not just the one person affected. The pain never ends it just passes on to the people left behind. 

It's a very well known fact that more men take their own life. In 2015, 75% of men took their own life compared to 25% of women. (source) But that's still 25% too many. The media likes to drill it into us that suicide is the biggest killer of men with those between the ages of 40-44 being at highest risk. But by constantly campaigning for more awareness around male suicide, people start to forget that it's not just men who are affected by this terrible circumstance. 

In fact, female suicide statistics are on the increase. In England, 2015, suicide rates had increased by 3.8%. The highest in the decade. (Source) But do we ever hear about this? No, we don't. The news is always dominated by stories which are affecting men. Like most industries and jobs, if there is a top spot it has to be filled by a white, abled bodied, cyst, heterosexual man. I'm by no means dismissing the tragedy of male suicide, but it has to be questioned if breaking everything including suicide statistics down into male and female, ignoring other intersects is actually counterintuitive. 

Charities, such as the Samaritans work tirelessly 24/7 365 days a year to support those in desperate need of help with the aim of reducing the number of people who complete suicide. However, to me, this work is almost wasted due to the medias constant fascination in only portraying one side of the story. 

A quick Google search will show you a range of stories and news tragically reporting or documenting the death of another celebrity male, but where are the females? Maybe, they are not documented because there isn't any? That would be foolish to believe as I have previously, just stated that 25% of suicides in 2015 were completed by women. However, the higher percentage is in favor of men and therefore logically, and mathematically it only makes sense that they are reported more in the news. 

Do we need to break suicide statistics down into male and female though? Is it a real necessity? Surely, suicide is suicide. Like I highlighted in the start of this post it shouldn't matter what background you come from or the genitals between your legs. Suicide is a sociological problem that needs tackling, for both and all genders.

There's a big emphasis in the media on the untold damage of being told to 'man up.' The portrayal of hegemonic masculine identity as the norm which subsequently is now causing the exponential growth of male suicide. As a sociology student, I'm acutely aware of the impact the damaging stereotypes and the pseudo importance of men fulfilling the instrumental role have on men's mental health. You could never deny that fact especially when men are three to four times more likely to end their own life than females. (source) But that doesn't mean women go unscathed. In fact, there is a significant suicide problem experienced by women which is not given the same kind of attention as the men. 

Although, the news normally focuses on completed suicide stats, which portray men to be suffering more than women. Suicide attempts are between two and four times more common in women. (Source) Why do these attempts not become statistics, I hear you ask? Men generally chose more extreme and lethal ways to end their own life's compared to women who opt for methods less likely to be successful.

Suicide- It's Not Just a Man's Problem death UK facts statistics men women anxiety depression

I don't think this difference could ever be put down to women having a greater support network and feeling like they are more able to open up about their troubles. Although, they might not experience the 'man up culture' they experience a different but equally devastating and damaging culture. 

If a woman is seen to be crying or emotional, well, it's probably just her time of the month. She doesn't need help; she will be okay. But what if auntie flow isn't currently visiting her and in fact, she's been crying uncontrollably for the last six weeks. Her mood is slowly subsiding. 

Or just as damaging; women are always dramatic and are just looking for attention. That girl in your class who keeps running out of lesson crying her eyes out or you haven't seen in weeks because she's buried her head in her hands, amongst her only companions left; her school books. She couldn't be suicidal. She is a woman. She'll have a massive support network and all her girly friends to talk to at 3 pm in the morning about her boy troubles. But what if she doesn't? 

When I found myself standing on a bridge, over a busy road, complementing jumping off, these stereotypes were spinning through my mind, only trying to convince me further my life wasn't worth living anymore. You see the thing is I didn't have a large group of friends, hell, I could count my real friends on the digits of my hands. I wasn't on my period, and I wasn't looking for attention. I was desperately unhappy and lonely in a society which ignored my every cry for help impart because of those stereotypes that surround females and suicide.

You can't see suicidal thoughts. You can't see what someone is thinking, and you can't always see suicidal behaviours. Turning a blind eye, making assumptions or just the suffering individual putting a very clever mask on to hide their internal demons, are some of the reasons why suicide happens today. Which, is not helped by the dangerous stereotypes and connotations surrounding the different genders and suicide.

We don't need to focus on talking about female suicide or male suicide. We need to talk about suicide. As soon as you prioritize one group over the other, the neglected group can slip through the net, leading to more preventable deaths. 

Suicide isn't a gender problem. It's a sociological problem.

If you are in need of support right now, ring the Samaritans, free on 116 123 (UK ROI) ( open 24/7 365 days a year) or email jo@Samaritans.crg 

I would be interested to know your thoughts on the topic, down below.

Thank you for reading, as always X

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