What's Killing Middle-Aged Men?
While other countries are seeing a decline in suicide, the United States has seen a spike, double as many homicides. What's causing this spike in the numbers? According to a BBC report, "What's Killing America's Men?", the increase is largely due to the demographic of white middle-aged men. In fact, Montana, the state where the reporting took place, has the highest suicide rate in the country, double the national average. This is incredibly alarming and facts which do not seem to be getting much attention. I found it ironic that the BBC, a British news organization, did the story on Americans, not Americans noting the concern themselves.
For the last several weeks, I have had the opportunity to go on WICC600 and chat with Tony and Melissa. This morning, I discussed this disturbing report on their show, "Tony and Melissa in the Morning." For me, it hits close to home. I am married to one of those middle-aged men. Don't be alarmed, I am not worried about my husband's mental health and he is happy to be alive! I do, however, understand many of the issues this demographic is facing. The report highlighted that as the work place has changed and many of the factories have closed, the jobs that were once a sure thing are no more, leaving men with an identity crisis. The way in which they provided for their families was suddenly snatched away, and they were left floundering. To compound matters, men often do not share with one another how they are feeling, and as such, they suffer in silence. For some men, the strain is just too much, and they are left with a gun in their hands and despair in their hearts.
So what do we do about this rising epidemic? Supporting our men, understanding the struggles of the changing work world and the pressure to suffer in silence, is huge. Help them understand their worth is not their work; they are more, so much more. Churches and support groups offer opportunities for men to share in safe places with one another, without judgement. Men or women, young or old, all need to know they are not alone. We truly are all in this together, and that hope can begin the healing.