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Why advocates say we need International Men’s Day

A look at common myths regarding suicide, as organizations observe World Suicide Prevention Day to raise awareness on the issue of suicides and how to prevent them.
People (especially men) aged 40 to 59 have the highest rates of suicide, according to Stats Canada. AP Photo

It’s International Men’s Day. Yes, men get their very own day (just like women do on March 8).

But isn’t every day man’s day, you say? Well, being a man definitely does have its perks (like higher pay). It also has its drawbacks.

Perhaps the biggest one is how much greater men’s risk is for suicide. Some say that’s reason enough for International Men’s Day, since it can provide a much-needed platform for a still-stigmatized topic.

“Three out of four deaths by suicide are men. And that’s a stat that doesn’t get talked about often enough, but is extremely alarming,” said Jesse Hayman, the Canadian community engagement director for Movember, a movement dedicated to increasing awareness about men’s health issues.

“Every day in Canada, seven men die by suicide.”

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In the U.K., the figure is even more alarming: more than a dozen men there take their own life each day. U.K. MPs have chosen International Men’s Day to debate the issue.

Hayman believes the problem starts at a very young age.

“We’re conditioned not to reach out. We’re conditioned to suck it up and tough it out. First and foremost, that needs to change,” the 37-year-old argues.

“We need our coaches to be teaching kids how to reach out for help and not stifling emotions…We need to break down those negative aspects of masculinity…which hold us back from being open and vulnerable and sharing our feelings.”

WATCH: The “What Makes a Man Conference” aimed to bring the notion of masculinity in line with the modern world in 2013.

The other crucial piece of the puzzle, according to Hayman, is increasing social ties. He says that as men get older, many become more disconnected.

“Twenty-five per cent don’t believe they have anyone outside their immediate family they can turn to for help.”

It’s where he and others think International Men’s Day can help. Use the day to have a proper conversation with the males in your life, Hayman suggests.

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“Talk to them, ask them how they are…Make men more comfortable reaching out when they need it.”

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READ MORE: 7 common suicide myths

The sentiment was shared by many on social media, who used International Men’s Day to start a dialogue about men’s mental health.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, visit suicideprevention.ca for a list of resources.

In case of an emergency, please call 911.