Men, Depression and Suicide
I have been seeing a trend recently online and in my clinical practice related to men and mental
health. The purpose of this blog is to address some of the themes and trends I have been seeing
around men’s mental health specifically in the areas of depression and suicidal ideation/suicide.
There are many reasons why someone can struggle with depression and suicidal ideations, this
blog touches on some of those struggles.
There are a few common signs that I have seen that are connected to depression and suicide.
They are hopelessness, worthlessness, and emptiness. In every case, I have seen, where
depression and suicide are issues, these 3 things are consistently present. What I have been
noticing as common factors with cases of suicide in the media, social media content, and in my clinical experience recently are: financial struggles and relationship conflict.
Given the current state of the economy, I think it would be wise for us to pay attention to
men’s mental health in these areas. Research continues to show us that men are less likely to
receive treatment or support for their problems and are more likely to die by suicide with the
most recent studies coming from The Centers of Disease Control.
The following are some things to consider when you or someone you know is struggling with
hopelessness, worthlessness, and emptiness:
I would like to highlight that it is common for men to struggle with worthlessness,
hopelessness, and emptiness when they are struggling with relationship problems or financial
issues. I have also noticed that many men may not even realize that they are experiencing these
things because they can hyper-focused on work, exercise, video games, sports, sex/porn,
alcohol, or other substance abuse issues that are distracting them from understanding
themselves. This is where I believe therapy can be useful, if the man is open to it. My personal
bias is to find a depth-oriented/psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapist which can be a more
challenging process of therapy but has been found to create long-lasting change.
Worthlessness: For most men (not all) feeling worthy can be tied to providing financially and having a relationship that brings them joy and peace of mind. I don’t think that these are bad
things at the same time what that help with feeling worthlessness is to develop different areas that bring worth. I want to challenge men to begin to understand the importance of their role within families, friendships, and even with colleagues. We can also provide things like emotional safety, being present and connected, structure, fun and adventure, wisdom, etc. We do not want to underestimate the value that these things can provide for others and the feeling of self worth they can give.
Hopelessness and Emptiness: In my experience when we are feeling hopeless there is usually a sense that there is no way out of the present problem(s) or no way out of the distressing feelings. Another common thing I see, and it is the reason I tied hopelessness to emptiness, is that
isolating oneself is a common behavior linked with depression. To combat these kinds of behaviors/emotional reactions, in my opinion, is to start to normalize emotions. Feeling and expressing emotions is not a bad thing. Everyone has emotions, it is a shared human experience. If we express emotions in ways that help us release and learn from these emotions, then sharing emotions will be an agent of change. Connecting with others who are trusted is an important way to work out of feeling worthless, hopeless and empty. This can start with a therapist, or someone else that you trust. Then slowly begin to expand that circle. Connection to others can also help us see life outside of the black hole of depression.
I also would like to add that these kinds of things can be deep-rooted and difficult to see for an
individual because they are protected with layers of defense mechanisms. Finding a good therapist and dedicating yourself to exploring these issues is highly recommended.
For anyone who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide right now please contact the Suicide
and Crisis Hotline at 988
Dr. Mario Rocha, LMFT #110095
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
CAV Family Therapy Inc.