Suicide is now the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50. This is a striking statistic one we all need to think about. And talk about.
Is it tougher to be a man now? I’m not sure but the constant presence of social media and social pressures through advertising, peer group, media and other signals mean that it is difficult for men to work out who they are, what they stand for and how to be true to themselves. Especially when who they are may be different from the image they project or the one their friends or family expect them to be.
Think of the increasingly dominant phrase ‘man up’, used any time a man moans about feeling ill or worried. The suggestions behind that phrase are terrible when you stop and look. It places the idea of masculinity at some high plateau, where we must be strong and stoic.
Let’s talk openly about what we feel and our thoughts, especially when what we feel and think could be damaging us. In other words, let's not man up. Let's speak out. Sometimes we need to find someone removed from our social circle who is completely non-judgemental and who can listen and guide us in a direction where we can be true to who we really are and start leading a rich, rewarding and meaningful life.
A recent example of how difficult it can be for professionals to seek help was in April 2016, a young accountant plunged to his death from a London skyscraper after his online gambling addiction spiralled out of control.
Joshua Jones was only 23 and working with PwC but also led a double life and was addicted to online gambling. He committed suicide after his gambling habit and associated debts rose uncontrollably, an inquest into his death was told. What this sad story indicates is there are people in the professions with problems and some do not feel able to be able or comfortable to seeking support.
We understand the pressures that professionals have of billing, clients, peer group, family and financial commitments which can make it difficult to take time out to seek help. Therefore, it is vital such professionals impacted by addiction or other issues seek qualified help as soon as possible otherwise the issues will conflate and the potential downside will be greater.
We also understand the increased shame that can exist for professionals as there is a general community expectation of lawyers, accountants and professionals to be stable, together people with their psychological house in order. For these professionals, it can be more difficult to admit to both themselves and others they have a problem.
Matthew Reynolds has a gradute diploma is Counselling and a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He was a qualified accountant before embarking on a more satisfying career of counselling.