Steph Slack can still remember exactly where she was in 2010 when she received the heartbreaking phone call from her dad about her beloved uncle. Her uncle was a 47 years old, intelligent, creative, and a doctor who saved people’s lives for a living – had died by suicide. She was left with a sinking feeling as she hung up the phone, wondering what she could’ve done to prevent this. Steph expresses in her Ted Talk discussion that men are facing a mental health crisis with over 10 men every day dying due to suicide. She states: “These are our brothers, fathers, uncles, partners, sons, and friends and they decide to die. I think there are some hard questions we need to ask about male suicide”.
In her Ted Talk, she talks about changing how we react to people having suicidal thoughts. She argues that we should “stop seeing having suicidal thoughts as something unusual, change our stereotypical expectations of men and, instead, support men who dare to be vulnerable with us”. Instead of seeing suicidal thoughts as wrong, we should get rid of the stigma and invite those struggling to open up. Society tells us men should be strong, and unemotional, and we have held them to this unrealistic standard. Phrases such as “man up” only promote this standard and further add to the stigma surrounding men’s mental health. By doing this, men are less inclined to share their struggles and force them to suffer in silence.
Steph’s Ted Talk continued to highlight that although the conversation around men’s mental health is changing with campaigns like Heads Up Guys, Movember, and Buddy Up, among many others – there is still room for change. Both men and women can take part in breaking down the stereotype by watching the words we use around mental health and how we react to disclosures from men. Slack encourages us to ask the men in our lives how they are really doing and really listen to them when they answer. Hopefully then men will feel as though they do not have to suffer alone.
Watch TedTalk Here.
Feature Image: Nik Shuliahin 💛💙, On Unsplash, Creative Commons.