WE NEED TO TALK

MORE AND MORE MEN ARE KILLING THEM­SELVES. MEN WHO SEEM HAPPY. MEN WHO DON’T. MEN WHO NEVER SHOW THEIR FEEL­INGS AT ALL. IF YOU BE­LIEVE A FRIEND IS AT RISK, HERE’S HOW TO SPEAK UP.

Men's Health (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Those thoughts you keep shak­ing off be­cause they’re “not pos­i­tive”? Let’s have chat about them.

Un­der­stand­ing why any­one kills him­self is al­ways com­plex, but even men­tal-health ex­perts were puz­zled when the CDC re­leased its lat­est sui­cide data in June: Eighty-four per­cent of men who die by sui­cide have no known men­tal-health con­di­tions. “Peo­ple in gen­eral—and men in par­tic­u­lar—try to hide hav­ing a men­tal-health prob­lem,” says David A. Jobes, Ph.D., di­rec­tor of the Catholic Univer­sity of Amer­ica’s Sui­cide Preven­tion Lab. That’s part of the prob­lem. The sui­cide rate for men is about three and a half times that of women—prob­a­bly be­cause men are less likely to seek help or talk to one an­other when they’re in trou­ble, and be­cause they’re more likely to own a gun than women and more likely to use one in a sui­cide at­tempt. (About 49 per­cent of sui­cide deaths in Amer­ica are the re­sult of us­ing a firearm, and sui­cide risk is higher in homes where guns are not stored safely.)

“We need preven­tion strate­gies that fo­cus not just on help­ing you not want to die by sui­cide but on whether or not you can die,” says Michael Anestis, Ph.D., as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of clin­i­cal psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of South­ern Mis­sis­sippi. “Lock­ing a gun in a safe doesn’t make you less sui­ci­dal—but it makes you less likely to die.” And while an in­di­vid­ual’s sui­cide can seem sur­pris­ing, there are usu­ally signs. “In my ex­pe­ri­ence, upon hon­est re­flec­tion, most of us would rec­og­nize in hind­sight that our friend who died by sui­cide was not do­ing well—that some­thing was off,” says Jobes. We need to do a bet­ter job of look­ing out for each other. Use this guide (like, right now) if you’re wor­ried about a friend.

1 ASK THE TOUGH QUES­TIONS

Be blunt. If your buddy isn’t bounc­ing back from a lay­off or a breakup or is post­ing con­cern­ing mes­sages, ask how he’s do­ing. If he says he’s feel­ing aw­ful, say—and this is tough—“That must be

re­ally stress­ful. How are you han­dling it? Are you re­ally down? Are you think­ing about killing your­self?” Ask­ing if he’s think­ing about sui­cide doesn’t in­crease his risk of killing him­self, says Ray­mond P. Tucker, Ph.D., as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of clin­i­cal psy­chol­ogy at Louisiana State Univer­sity. It can ac­tu­ally help him feel sup­ported and con­nected. “Even if they aren’t think­ing about sui­cide or lie about hav­ing those thoughts, they know you’re will­ing to lis­ten, and they’re more likely to come back to you later.”

If he say yes...

•SUP­PORT: Ask what’s go­ing on and why he thinks he feels the way he does. Don’t project judg­ment. “Some­times the rea­son why some­one could say they’re sui­ci­dal can seem mi­nus­cule to you— but it is the big­gest thing in the world to them,” says Tucker.

•HELP: Sug­gest call­ing the Sa­mar­i­tans of Sin­ga­pore hot­line (1800-221 4444) to­gether. “Cri­sis-line work­ers are ex­pertly trained. They’re used to talk­ing to sui­ci­dal peo­ple, and they’re good at it,” says Jobes. Or help him make an ap­point­ment with his doc­tor or find a men­tal-health pro­fes­sional. If he needs im­me­di­ate help, of­fer to drive him to the emer­gency room.

•FOL­LOW UP: Text or call a cou­ple times a day and see how he’s do­ing. Com­mu­ni­cate just how aw­ful it would be to lose him. “The con­ver­sa­tion does not al­ways need to be about sui­cide, but cer­tainly let them know that you’re there to help,” says Tucker.

•TEACH HIM TO CON­TROL HIS RE­SPONSE: Tell your friend that just like an ex he fell for, sui­ci­dal thoughts can still show up at the door from time to time, says sui­cide re­searcher Ur­sula White­side, Ph.D. The trick is how he re­sponds. “Go out for a drink with that ex and you might end up in bed,” she says. “Don’t re­spond to the ex— in­stead, cook din­ner or do a work­out— and you’ll change your re­la­tion­ship to the thoughts. It’s not the thoughts them­selves that are danger­ous; it’s how you re­spond.”

2 SPOT THE DAN­GER SIGNS

While de­pres­sion is a big risk fac­tor for sui­cide, it’s not the only one, says Igor Ga­lynker, M.D., Ph.D., di­rec­tor of the Ga­lynker Sui­cide Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory at Mount Si­nai’s Ic­ahn School of Medicine. Peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence all of the be­low can be 15 times more likely to at­tempt sui­cide in the near fu­ture than those who don’t, he says.

Feel­ing trapped or hope­less Los­ing con­trol of thoughts (like he’s locked into a neg­a­tive loop of think­ing that he can’t es­cape) Ex­treme anx­i­ety or rapid mood swings In­som­nia or ag­i­ta­tion So­cial with­drawal (avoid­ing so­cial out­ings he’d nor­mally take part in)

Sug­gest these DIY op­tions

•TEC-TEC: This game­like ver­sion of a psy­cho­log­i­cal tech­nique called eval­u­a­tive con­di­tion­ing tasks the user with pair­ing cer­tain words and im­ages to­gether. Find it on the Ap­ple App Store or Ama­zon.

•VIR­TUAL HOPE BOX: Funded by the Mil­i­tary Sui­cide Re­search Con­sor­tium, it uses cop­ing strate­gies such as re­lax­ation, dis­trac­tion, and pos­i­tive think­ing. Find it on the Ap­ple App Store or Google Play.

•NOWMATTERSNOW.ORG: Ur­sula White­side’s tool-packed site in­cludes sur­vivor sto­ries and a YouTube chan­nel that teaches skills to help peo­ple get through hard mo­ments.

•MAN THER­APY: This award-win­ning cam­paign cuts through the BS and stigma of de­pres­sion, di­vorce, anx­i­ety, and sui­cide in a hu­mor­ous but help­ful way. man­ther­apy.org

THE SUI­CIDE RATE FOR MEN IS ABOUT THREE AND A HALF TIMES THAT OF WOMEN— PROB­A­BLY BE­CAUSE MEN ARE LESS LIKELY TO SEEK HELP OR TALK TO ONE AN­OTHER WHEN THEY’RE IN TROU­BLE.

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