On the World Suicide Prevention Day (10th September), a clarifying survey was launch about suicide literacy. It was revealed 10 myths and facts about suicide. This short article is a correlation between the outcome of this research with the reasons Mathew Fox explained men would rather be isolated and lonely than do the work that requires vulnerability.
Let’s start with the main key finding of the survey: the suicide was frequently attributed to isolation and feeling lost, lonely and disconnected. It highlighted an opportunity to focus on inclusion and connectedness.
Now, the question is why does a man hide his desire to process his pain? Are they aware of the value of this work? According to Mathew Fox , they are aware and they know about it - whether consciously or unconsciously. Fox assume that there are many men who have a hidden spirituality - meaning a way to deal with their own pain - however, they don’t share with anyone. In his book, he describes 24 reasons why they don’t, which here you will read five of them:
“1. Because Western culture is still a dualistic patriarchy that values thinking over feeling, material wealth over spiritual, scientific fact over intuitive knowledge, men over women, and heterosexuals over homosexuals;
2. Because men are rarely rewarded, and often mocked, for openly expressing their deepest feelings of joy, sensitivity, and pain;
3. Because men, who are “not supposed to cry”, learn to hide their grief as well as their joy;
4. Because men don’t know how - and are not trained - to deal with their anger and outrage in healthy ways;
5. Because cynicism, depression, and exhaustion can make soul work seem pointless or overwhelming” (Fox, 2008, p. XIII ).
Our Western Society, dominated by the Capitalism and its traps has a lot of work to do in order to create a healthy and effective plan for suicide prevention. Soul work is counter-cultural. It goes against the dominant system of the individualism and capitalism we are all addicted to. Maybe, dealing with the suicidal issue through soul work is the noblest act a nation can do for the world. It would lead to an unknown place. That is quite threatening and challenging. Everything starts with the individual.
Now let’s check the three main myths and fact relevant to men’s issues, which is always co-related with isolation, disconnectedness, and fear of being perceived as a weak man. I choose three myths about the pain that is visible why men practice self-destruction more than women.
1. The myth was that by asking about suicide, would encourage them to go ahead; the fact was that this invitation could save a man’s life. He could feel confident enough to talk honestly about his own pain by identifying what is truly happening for him.
2. The idea that if someone is going to take their life nothing can stop them; the fact was that the thoughts of suicide are usually a response to intense psychological pain that a man has been unable to manage rather than a desire to die. Talk about the psychological pain can avoid death, and again, it gives them some relief.
3. A sudden improvement means he is getting better and suicide is avoided; the fact is that it could mean the opposite, as the man might be ‘at peace’ because he is believing he might be closer to ending his pain.
I encourage you to read the other seven myths and facts here. They are of extreme importance to know, as they highlight the importance of talking openly, in a non-judgment manner, and with courage in order to offer a safe space for a man to start processing his pain.
Felipe Oliveira is a counsellor for men who wants to live an Authentic Life™.
Fox, M. (2008). The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. New World Library Publisher.
Felipe Oliveira provides counselling for men facing suicide ideation. Click here to know more about his work . Or, please, continue reading this short article about the myths, facts and reasons about men's suicide.
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