Editorial: dying in silence

When equality is spoken about, it is often focused on women breaking the glass ceiling, sharing the same finishing line as their male counterparts, and owning their bodies. Taking a back seat in these equality conversations is mental health. Specifically, male mental health. Equality is having equal opportunities, in order to successfully practice this, male mental health must be brought to the forefront of people’s attention. 

While the female population reports more attempts and suicidal ideation, the male population has a higher rate of completing suicide attempts. Accounting for 79% of all US suicides, men are 3.5-4 times more likely than women to complete the act, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This number is high in part because of the socially-constructed male gender roles and the stigma that “men don’t cry,” which causes male depression to often go undiagnosed. This results in unsuccessful self-treatment of depression symptoms, according to a study titled “Men and Depression” by Associate Director of the Psychotherapy Program in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, John Ogrodniczuk. 

Depression presents itself differently in men than women and understanding these symptoms must be a priority in prevention. According to Harvard Health, men are more likely to lose weight, show symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, develop physical problems like headaches and chronic pain, and use drugs and/or alcohol to self-medicate.

If there is one new thing that should be learned during all the shutdowns, lockdowns, and breakdowns, let it be the intuition to notice and act when someone is struggling. You have the power to make a change in someone’s life. Watching for the warning signs of depression, allowing the expression of thoughts and feelings, providing sources for those who have trouble speaking up, and listening to their struggles are just some ways we can protect boys and men from dying in silence.