Across the U.S. and the UK, suicide, especially among males, has reached epidemic proportions. There are multiple reasons for the epidemic, but the fact remains: something must be done to help prevent future tragedies. With June being Men’s Health Month, it’s as great a time as any to call attention to this issue, and highlight individuals and organisations working to do the same.
Recently, footballers from the West Midlands came together at the Nick Mowl Cup to raise awareness about suicide and to collect money toward prevention efforts. The efforts netted over £10,000 for their efforts!
The Growing Epidemic of Suicide
Every hour and a half in the UK, someone takes their own life. Even though women attempt suicide more frequently, men complete the endeavour more often, generally because they tend to choose more violent means. Women tend toward purposeful drug overdose, whereas men are more likely to opt for firearms or reckless driving.
Indeed, Mowl himself took his own life this way at the age of 41. A former player for the Solihull Borough, Mowl committed suicide by driving his automobile into a coach bus.
Even though society pays lip service to the idea of reaching out for help when suicidal thoughts occur, in reality, the stigma surrounding mental illness prevents many from seeking the help they need. This is especially true of men, who often don’t speak up about mental health problems for fear of looking “weak.”
The Inspiration Behind the Birmingham Footballers’ Journey
The tragic death of Mowl due to suicide caused many in the football community to mourn. It also inspired them to take action to prevent future tragedies. By organising a tournament in Mowl’s honour, these elite athletes hoped to raise revenue for prevention efforts.
They succeeded by raising over £10,000, which was donated to the Kaleidoscope Plus Group, a health and well-being charity in the Midlands. The funds will go toward the creation of a suicide crisis text line, similar to the one in the U.S. that’s reachable by texting 741741. The group continues to raise money for suicide awareness. Those who are interested in donating can visit the tournament website for further information on how to help.
Reaching Out to Men Who Need Help
June marks Men’s Health Month: a reminder that mental health matters as much as the physical kind, and sometimes more. After all, science shows that our thoughts have much to do with illness in the body.
Given the suicide epidemic, mental health resources continue to expand. Physicians have grown more astute at identifying signs of suicide in their patients by using risk assessments to identify those suffering from depression. Even though such screenings have grown more sophisticated, much remains to be done to ensure everyone in need can access help if they need it.
Those who fear someone they love may be contemplating suicide would do well to watch for the following signs:
- Moodiness or sadness. Everyone feels down from time to time. But if someone you love seems sad 24/7, this is cause for concern. Be aware of moodiness and outbursts in men, as they tend to act out with anger when depressed, unlike women who tend to internalize despair.
- Changes in personality or appearance. Many people with depression find basic grooming tasks overwhelming. Formerly upbeat individuals may become sullen.
- Withdrawing from the world. Those who are depressed and contemplating suicide often prefer to be alone rather than socialise with others. They frequently also lose interest in formerly pleasurable activities.
- Giving away prized possessions. This is a particularly troublesome sign, as it indicates the person is planning an imminent act to end their lives. Encourage the individual to seek help and consider reaching out for assistance yourself in order to process the emotions associated with this that you may experience.
- A sudden calm. If a depressed person suddenly appears sanguine and peaceful, they may have come to terms with their demise. Contact a suicide hotline and ask for advice. If necessary, you can call 999 and ask the police to perform a welfare check on the individual.
Raising Awareness and Preventing Suicide
Suicide claims far too many lives far too young. As a caring society, we owe it to each other to do what we can to help those caught in the grip of depression and despair. Hopefully, more athletes and celebrities will donate their time and considerable followings to raise money and awareness for the worthy cause of preventing others from leaving too soon.