DENVER - Listen up, men. Statistics from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment show that men are one of the toughest groups to urge toward mental health treatment.
“Many men are conditioned from birth to be strong, to be resilient, if there are challenges to pull yourself up by your boot straps and solve your own problems,” said Sally Spencer-Thoman, CEO of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation. “So all of that conditioning really does work in Men’s favor for most of their lives; they’re very tough problem solvers. However, when people are faced with overwhelming life challenges, like depression or addiction, sometimes you just can’t do it alone anymore.”
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment reports out of the 1,093 suicides in Colorado last year, 77 percent of them were men, and 52 percent of those aged 25 to 64.
Experts say we can do better in helping ourselves and those closest to us.
“Men have a tendency to wait until something is a crisis and even sometimes when it’s a crisis they choose to not reach out for help, so that’s the big challenge for us,” said Jarrod Hindman, with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. “We’re rooted in these concepts that to be a man you gotta be tough, you got to be independent, people depend on me. So we’re trying to reverse that to say that ‘yeah, you’re right, people are depending you, and to be the best man you can be you have to be dialed in mentally and emotionally.”
The push to help men in this target age group is so great, suicide prevention experts created a website to help give men the resources they need.
“We really try to normalize mental health and mental health challenges, and we talk about some of the statistics around mental health,” said Ashley Weycer, associate medical director at Colorado Crisis Connection. “Middle-aged men are the group that are most likely to complete suicide, not necessarily the most likely to attempt suicide, but definitely the most likely to complete suicide and I think a lot of that does have to do with the social stigma.”
And there’s one big message that all suicide prevention experts have for not only men who need help, but everyone who might be struggling emotionally.
“Check in with them beyond the superficial, as them how they’re doing, ask them what their plans are and how they’re going to get support, make it normal for them to reach out,” said Sally Spencer-Thomas- CEO, Carson J. Spencer Foundation.
If you need help or know someone who does, you can contact Colorado Crisis Services 24 hour a day at 1-844-493-TALK or online at www.ColoradoCrisisServices.org . There are 24-hour clinics across the metro area that are always staffed with therapists waiting to help.