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Mental Health Crisis Line: 1 866 996-0991

Child, Youth and Family Crisis Line for Eastern Ontario: 1 877 377-7775

Mental Health Crisis Line:
1 866 996-0991

Child, Youth and Family Crisis Line for Eastern Ontario:
1 877 377-7775

How to Reach Out – Men

How to Reach Out - Men

The Canadian Mental Health Association (2016) reports that men die of suicide at a rate four times higher than that of women.

One of the primary factors is marital breakdown. Men often feel a sense of failure and shame when their marriage falls apart. They tend to feel lonely, and may also have to deal with financial pressures. In addition, being separated from their children may make them feel sad and powerless.

Another factor that can increase men’s risk of suicide, especially in middle-aged men, is their career. They may feel less useful at work and may no longer have the necessary knowledge to bring to their organization in this fast-paced world. They may fear unemployment or retirement. Without work, many men lose their sense of identity, and in the same process may feel like they’re losing their social connections.

Men also tend to keep their emotions to themselves. Many find it harder than women to make social connections and often prefer to work things out by themselves. Some may also feel ashamed about their feelings.

How can you tell if a man in your life might be struggling with his mental health?

It’s very important to be alert to changes in behaviour. The following are a few potential signs to watch for:

  • Changes in behaviour or regular activities
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping far too much
  • Lower energy and motivation
  • Frequent outbursts of anger, rage or mood swings
  • Avoiding family and/or friends
  • Use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Overuse of prescribed medication
  • Change in physical health and/or hygiene
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Ideation (thinking and talking about death)
  • Anxiety/Agitation
  • Has experienced a suicide by a family member/friend
  • Previous suicide attempt

What can you do if you notice a change in a person’s behaviour?

If you have noticed some of the warning signs mentioned above or others, it’s important to talk with the person about what specific changes you have noticed. Try to remain caring, open and supportive.

Prepare yourself

  • Write down what you want to say
  • Think about what you would do and prepare yourself if the person has a negative reaction
  • Find out about mental health resources in your community
  • Talk to others who are in contact with the person in question more regularly (such as a friend/spouse/co-worker, etc.) to see if they have noticed similar changes and behaviours
  • Talk to other people who may have dealt with similar situations
  • Choose an appropriate time and place to have the conversation

Talk About It

Here are a few things to keep in mind during the conversation:

  • Talk about the changes you have noticed. Keep it short and give the person the opportunity to think about what was said. Make sure you set a time to talk about it later on. But if you feel the person might do something drastic, do not leave them alone.
  • Provide support. The person needs to feel your genuine support.
  • Keep calm. Don’t take things personally. The person may do or say things out of anger or disbelief. Help the person find someone he may be more comfortable with, if he doesn’t feel at ease talking to you. Men might feel more comfortable speaking with another male. They may also be open to speak to a counselor or their doctor.
  • Be open-minded and non-judgmental. Replace “You have everything,” “Look at all the people who love you” and “You will find another job” with “I am here for you,” “No matter what you are going through, I can help you” and “I love you/care about you.”
  • Leave the door open for further conversation. No matter the time of day, it’s important to be there for the person. It often takes great courage for them to open up about their issues.
  • Don’t give up. Don’t accept the answer that “nothing is wrong” if your instinct is telling you otherwise. Be persistent, but in a loving/caring way.
  • Connect them with help. Offer to accompany them if possible.
  • Take care of yourself. Helping out a depressed or suicidal person can be very stressful. Make sure you get support for yourself, whether it be friends, family, health care providers, etc.
  • Remember: You are not responsible for anyone who chooses to take their own life.

If you’re worried that the person might be suicidal, call the Mental Health Crisis Line at 1 866 996-0991. If you feel the person is in danger of taking their life, call 9-1-1.