The increasing problem in Suicide particular in young men has made headlines and become a massive talking point once again following the death of 26 year old reality television star Mike Thalassitis after it was revealed had taken his own life and was discovered hanging in a park in central London.
It has emerged that the Love Island star is not the only Love Island celebrity that has passed away. Sophie Grandon aged 32 died of an alleged suicide attempt.
Across all the media mediums i have viewed regarding this subject matter one word keeps re appearing, Shame.
Men feel ashamed, embarrassed and weak of expressing there emotions, i am reassuring other men that there is no shame and shouldn’t be any stigma and ignorance in depression.
As a man who is recovering from mental health problems and I have struggled with extreme thoughts of sucide and attempts. I have had to face up to shame and discuss it in detail. It has been painful and at time’s frightening process but one that has been key to my recovery as i had to open up to begin accessing the most important, effective and relative support services.
In my opinion as a society, we most definitely need to begin having discussions about shame, guilt, embarrassment, lack of awareness and understanding and the dark places that it can lead to when people’s feelings of shame get out of control. When we look at the problem of male suicide and men’s mental health in general, we need to look at how our society sets up young men to experience potentially unmanageable levels of shame and we need to work together to build a society where this is no longer the case.
Shame can be about any number of things, often contradictory: thinking of suicide, being unable to stop thinking of suicide, not acting on suicidal thoughts, acting on suicidal thoughts, and so on.
Shame especially can follow a suicide attempt.
Causes of Shame
Just as suicidal thoughts can lead to shame, shame can lead to suicidal thoughts. It is a merciless cycle of pain: one begets the other.
“Thinking of suicide means I’m weak,” clients have told me.
“I’m a loser, a failure.”
“I should be able to cope.”
“I’m a bad person.”
Lost in all the self-condemnation is the understanding and acceptance of suicidal thoughts as a symptom. Suicidal thoughts can be a symptom of a mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder. Or you may not have a mental illness. Suicidal thoughts also can serve instead as a symptom of extreme stress, overwhelming painful emotions, a sense of despair and hopelessness, or some other situation that the person experiences as unbearable.
Suicidal thoughts are not who you are. They do not define you. Instead, they happen to you. The same is true of conditions and situations that can lead to suicidality: depression, anxiety, trauma, schizophrenia, addiction, and other mental health issues. These conditions do not touch your truest, deepest self, what some may refer to as your soul or your essence.
Shame and Stigma
It’s hard to talk about shame about suicidality without also talking about stigma. Shame comes from inside the person. It is an emotion, an internal feeling of disgrace. Stigma, on the other hand, comes from outside the person. It is a mark of disgrace. Stigma comes from the messages that society sends out, messages that there is something fundamentally bad about people if they have certain conditions or qualities.
There is a tremendous amount of stigma toward people who think about, attempt or die by suicide. Many movies, press accounts, even random comments on the Internet portray suicidal individuals as cowardly, weak, selfish, defective – and so on. This harmful stigma ignores facts about biology, in particular neurobiology, illness, and the functioning of the brain.
Most importantly, stigma feeds into shame. Stigma reinforces for the suicidal person the idea that something is bad about him or her. And stigma causes many people not to seek help. They simply are too embarrassed, too frightened, too ashamed.
What shall we do?
Rather than viewing suicidal thoughts as a character flaw, it is more helpful to look at their underlying meaning. What are your suicidal thoughts telling you that you need?
If you are thinking of dying, it could mean that you need to leave a toxic relationship, or quit a job, or learn new ways to cope, or do any number of things that might allow you to experience less pain without killing yourself. Your suicidal thoughts likewise could be a signal that you need a change in medication, or therapy, or more connection with others.
The shame itself is telling you something, too. It is telling you that you may have a wound, an injury deep inside of you that needs healing. You may even identify this wound as your self, you true self, not as a piece of your past.
Psychotherapy can help. So can other things. The practice of mindfulness meditation helps people to observe that their thoughts and feelings do not constitute their essence. Practicing compassion toward oneself can also help a person separate their selfhood from their problems or symptoms. Knowledge is power.
If you are currently experiencing periods of distress, it’s important to remember you are never ever alone and please use the following helplines for advice and information on sucide prevention.
Always remember you are not alone.
Tel: 116 123.
Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. They provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.
Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87
Free to call
Breathing Space is free to phone from a landline and any mobile phone network.
The phone number won’t show up on any telephone bills.
Breathing Space opening hours
24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday – 6am Monday).
6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday – Thursday).
Phone and speak to a Breathing Space advisor on 0800 83 85 87.
HOPELINEUK: 0800 068 4141
Support for anyone under 35 experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned that a young person may be experiencing thoughts of suicide.
Students Against Depression
Suicide and self-harm
Surviving suicidal thoughts
Students Against Depression is a website offering advice, information, guidance and resources to those affected by low mood, depression and suicidal thinking. Alongside clinically-validated information and resources it presents the experiences, strategies and advice of students themselves – after all, who are better placed to speak to their peers about how depression can be overcome.
Call the National Male Survivor Helpline:
0808 800 5005
The National Male Helpline for males living in England and Wales
Monday 9am – 5pm
Tuesday 8am – 8pm
Wednesday 9am – 5pm
Thursday 8am – 8pm
Friday 9am – 5pm
Saturday 10am – 2pm
Self Harm & Young People
Parent’s Helpline: 0808 802 5544
For young people
National charity committed, dedicated and passionate on improving the mental health of all children and young people, their Parents Information Service provides information and advice for any adult with concerns about a child or young person..
LGBT Helpline Scotland
The helpline is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 12:00-9:00pm. Please call 0300 123 2523.
Helpline: 0300 330 0630
Switchboard offers a support and referral service for lesbians, gay men, bisexual people and anyone who needs to consider issues around their sexuality. Call them if you want to talk about your feelings, are frightened, confused or isolated. Maybe you’re falling in or out of love, coming to terms with your sexuality, or have feelings for a classmate or workmate. They certainly won’t tell you what to do. They definitely won’t judge you. Every call you make to them is private and confidential. They are there for you.
The Terence Higgins Trust
Freephone: 0800 802 1221
Sexuality and gender
Growing up and entering the world of sex and relationships can seem confusing and worrying at first. If you are not sure if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you may find it helpful to talk to someone you trust about your feelings. THT is there to answer your questions and give you plenty of support.
Epilepsy Action Helpline:
If you would like to talk to someone regarding all things epilepsy, the organisation has trained facilitators who are there to help you.
They offer confidential and personal advice and you can tell them as much or as little as you feel. No question is a silly one.
Call 0808 800 50 50
Monday to Thursday 8.30am-8.00pm