Let’s face it, November isn’t the most exciting of months, is it? The fun of Halloween is over, and the December holiday season is still weeks away (unless you work retail, of course). That’s why “Movember” is such a great movement. Movember is when men let their mustaches grow for the entire month of November to raise awareness of issues affecting men. The Movember Foundation’s three major concerns this year are prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicidal tendencies in men. Let’s take a closer look at what suicidal tendencies are, where they come from, and how to address them. Even during this modern boom of mental health awareness, many men still don’t feel like they can ask for mental help when they need it. It’s high time we changed all that.
Where Do Suicidal Tendencies Come From?
Suicidal tendencies (also called suicidal ideation) are thoughts about taking your own life. Suicidal thoughts can sound like this:
- “No one would miss me if I were gone.”
- “Everything would stop hurting if I died.”
- “I don’t see another way out.”
- “Everyone would be better off without me.”
Suicidal ideation can also include thinking about the ways in which you could end your life. Some people who are experiencing suicidal tendencies make elaborate plans to die by suicide, while others think about it more abstractly.
You can experience suicidal thoughts for a variety of reasons — or, seemingly, no reason at all. Consider the following:
- People who are seriously ill and/or in a severe amount of pain may see dying as the only way out.
- Dealing with the grief of losing someone you loved can make you feel like it’s impossible to go on with your life.
- The loss of your livelihood or a big argument with a close family member could make you feel like you’re just letting everyone down.
Or you may simply feel as though life isn’t worth living any more, and you don’t understand where these thoughts are coming from. That’s one of the telltale signs and symptoms of depression, and you should know that there’s help for you out there.
Anyone can experience suicidal ideation, regardless of whether they’ve had major medical issues or a recent traumatic experience. Risk factors can include a previous suicide attempt, a history of experiencing physical or sexual abuse, or a history of alcohol or drug abuse. There’s also undisputed evidence that having access to a firearm is an enormous risk factor for suicide. But, again, anyone can begin to experience despair, loneliness, and depression, even someone who has never displayed signs of a mental health issue before. That’s why it’s so important to know the warning signs of suicidal ideation and to get help for yourself or someone else as soon as you can.
What to Do If You or Someone You Know Has Suicidal Thoughts
Ending your life is not the answer. If you or someone you love is thinking about dying by suicide, it’s crucial that you seek expert professional help immediately. You can always dial 911, and you shouldn’t feel silly doing so — this is an emergency situation. In the U.S., there’s also the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which is (800) 273–8255 and offers communication in over 150 languages. If you find it too difficult to speak about your feelings (and that’s a legitimate concern), it also offers a helpful chat feature.
If you’re not at risk of self-harm in the immediate future but find yourself fantasizing about death and dying, you may not think you’re in a crisis situation. It’s very important to understand that you don’t have to be contemplating suicide in this exact moment to seek expert care. If you catch yourself thinking that the world would be a better place without you, it’s time to get some help.
You can start by talking to your family doctor or general practitioner, who can refer you to a mental health care professional — a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other licensed therapists. If making phone calls and setting up appointments feel insurmountable to you right now, enlist someone you love and trust to help you. And if someone asks you to do that for them, know that you could very well be saving their life. We’re all in this together, and we have to look out for one another.
Suicide Prevention for Men: Breaking the Stigma
Movember is a great time to raise awareness of suicidal ideation in men, but to be honest, it doesn’t matter if you grow your ‘stache or not. What’s really important here is that we speak openly about suicidal tendencies in men. The majority of people who die by suicide are male, but we as men are still so reticent to discuss or mental health. We’re afraid that admitting to feeling sad and hopeless or needing to use antidepressants makes us look weak. We fear being sent to the hospital for psychiatric care if we talk about our suicidal thoughts. We tell ourselves that we’re big and strong enough to overcome our trauma, even though trauma, by definition, causes long-term emotional problems.
Let’s use this month to chip away at the stigma of men’s mental health issues, not only for ourselves, but for those we care about. Have you ever felt like you simply couldn’t perform an act of self-care because it felt silly and self-indulgent but then had no problem doing it for someone you loved? If you’re struggling with being more open about your mental health, you can think of it like this. By talking about your own feelings, you might make it easier for a friend or relative to share that they could really use some professional help right now. By speaking openly about your past struggles, you could help someone to see that things can get better with the right support. And by ending the taboo around Gen X and Millennial depression, you could pave the way for Generations Z and Alpha to take better care of their mental well-being.
Before I go, I mustache you an important request. Will you leave a picture of yourself in full Movember mode in the comments section, along with some words of support for others who might be reading this? Let’s start normalizing men supporting men right here, right now. And be good to yourself! You are worthy of support from others, and especially yourself.
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