Four years ago this week, one of my good friends from college ended his life.
He was having a huge custody dispute with his ex-wife after she cheated on him with one of his friends. He was fighting for visitation rights for his two kids after he and his ex got into a fight and he was arrested and slapped with a restraining order. He had struggled for over a year with the divorce proceedings, losing his cool time and time again and seeing less and less of his kids.
So, the great equalizer, so he thought, was breaking in to his ex-wife’s apartment on a cold December Sunday and blowing his brains out in her dining room.
I can’t be sure of why he acted with such horrendous judgement. I can’t be sure that he was tired of the process and had no where to turn. He was alone, fighting for his kids, and getting kicked and punched in a metaphorical sense by the courts and his ex, so it seems plausible. He was looking for a symbolic gesture, the ultimate “fuck you” to his ex. I can’t put myself in his situation, although I’ve seen similar things happen to men, but I can’t possible fathom what he was thinking that terrible Sunday.
The story that seems to stick from his family and friends is that he was going to “make an example to his ex”.
What ended up happening was nothing like he planned.
His ex, after the initial shock, quietly called the police, had them clean up the mess, fake mourned with the kids, and resumed her life. Everything this horribly symbolic gesture he thought was supposed to get out of her, regret, sadness, misery, being lost, pining for him to come back, didn’t transpire. She cashed the life insurance check, went to the funeral, and then went on with her life.
That’s cold shit. But it’s also fucking reality.
The bottom line in this sad situation is that the only people affected by his selfish act were his kids, who don’t have a dad anymore, and his family, who are without a brother, uncle, and son.
The harsh truth: His ex didn’t give a flying fuck about his death.
His family has suffered for years this time of year because he decided to make a life ending decision. Instead of a holiday filled with happy times with him, his family mourns every year over the loss of this man.
And there lies the crux of why men are doing these terrible things to themselves.
Suicide in the United States is quickly becoming an epidemic. 7 out of 10 suicides are men. These men are similar in mindset to my friend. They feel they have to struggle with life’s problems alone, lest they be ridiculed and made to feel inferior for not dealing with their problems “like a man”. These men don’t go to therapy, as they think it makes them look weak, won’t solve their problems, or is a taboo brought down by other men who “have their lives together.” Society in general wants men to grow up and deal with their problems, but they give them absolutely no road map on how to accomplish that.
I’m sure, never in his wildest fantasies about his suicide, would he have imagined his ex coming in, taking a mop and bucket to his mess, wiping the walls with a wash cloth, and moving on with her life. Raw, isn’t it? It’s a messed up situation that he was hoping would end in his ex crying on his remains. But his story, just like all the others, ends the same. He’s not here anymore by his own hand. A selfish act intended to make a huge point ends up only costing some drywall, carpet, and bleach.
The chasm, or the breach that he was looking into, was one of symbolism, pain, hardship, and hopelessness that many men face everyday. But the issue here that I’m getting at is what they think they are doing by sacrificing their lives for some unknown principle, belief, or slight against someone, doesn’t even affect that person most of the time.
Men who feel they have no where to turn will often take their own lives because they lack any sort of out for their overwhelming feelings of depression. Many don’t want to go to therapy, join a men’s group, or talk to a religious leader because they fear they will look weak, be ridiculed, or have their dirty laundry aired to the congregation during Sunday brunch.
So they double down on doing the things they were doing that weren’t working to get out of the hole they’re in. Their feelings of potential embarrassment about being “broken” or needing help override their very real need to seek out professional or group help.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
As I write this, I think about my own denial about getting help for my issues, until I actually broke down and went to a therapist. While therapy is STILL to this day looked down upon as being weak for men to do by society, it was the greatest thing that I have ever done. Not only did it help me get out of a tailspin of a marriage, it also got me my life back. It got me through the depression and rock bottom parts of my divorce where I was contemplating doing the same damn thing my friend did 4 years ago.
I got help, and I’m here today to tell men once again that getting help from someone, any one, will save your lives. But you have to reach out. Trust me, the help is there. I’ve found a men’s fraternity that has given me new life and more help than I could ever imagine. These new fraternities or men’s groups have the potential to help men so much. Therapy and talking to a neutral party can help a man get out the shit that’s weighing him down and making him suffer. The times are changing, but men’s problems are still the same. There are many outlets for you to grow and get better, but it starts with you getting over the idea that you, yourself, can get out of this mess. If you could, you wouldn’t be in it any more.
The chasm that many men face is too daunting, too difficult, too dark to try and traverse. So they give up and fall in. What they don’t see, what they never see, is the bridge just off in the distance, or the chasm closing a few miles down, or the path down the chasm that takes them to the other side with a little bit of work. Their vantage point is one of hopelessness, only seeing where they are standing at that point in time, looking down at their feet and the endless below. They can’t see, or perhaps don’t want to see, the whole picture because it doesn’t fit in their narration of how their life tragically ends. They put an emphatic period on their story by falling into the chasm without even stopping to think who it will affect, how, and why.
She Doesn’t Care
This brings me to the other issue of this blog post, that of the why. Many, many men commit suicide over a woman in their life. They see that she’s cheated on them, so just like my friend, their great equalizer is supposed to be a tragic death throe as their ex dives at them in horror at what they’ve done.
Let me be blunt guys.
The only women that you’re hurting when you pull the trigger are the women in your family. They’ve lost a son because he couldn’t get over a girl who easily got over him. Your sacrifice doesn’t mean SHIT to any girl that you feel it will. Your ex-wife or girlfriend doesn’t care about you killing yourself because of her. She’s already rid of you and all you’ve done is pointlessly, selfishly, ended your life to see what she’ll do.
You won’t fucking see it because you’ll be DEAD.
Many men don’t think any of this through when jaded by a lover or ex.
They just pull the trigger.
The pain of your loss won’t be felt by anyone except those that love you. You are selfishly stealing years away from them because you can’t handle the fact that a woman cheated on you, or left you. This is where you precisely need to “man up”.
Go to therapy, unplug and take control of your life instead of letting a woman with no interest make you do terrible things to yourself.
Crossing the Chasm
I miss my friend. I miss him every day. I miss him even more now knowing that I didn’t reach out like I should have, but even if I had, I don’t think he would’ve taken my help. What can men do to help? What can men do who are struggling? How can they cross the chasm?
I will recommend to men exactly what I did.
First, recognize you have a problem and you can’t solve said problem without help. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to reach out if you’re struggling. How will you overcome obstacles if you don’t have help?
I think of it like my Spartan career. When I trifecta’d in 2016, I needed a team of people to help me overcome obstacles. Sure, the ones I did alone made me feel like a bad ass, but still, I needed help with a wall, the rope climb, or a traverse wall, I had to have another man help me out. No shame in admitting that, nor is there shame in accepting the help. I still got my medal and my t-shirt, and I did it with teamwork. The same goes the other way. You can help others who need it by reaching out and asking them how they truly are, how their life is going, and where their hangups are.
Men have to realize that ANY chasm is not an impossible task. There are bridges, other people, and choke points that will get you across. You just have to believe. Just like lack of belief is strong in determining if a man will take his own life, the reverse can help save it. If a man knows there are ways out of his situation, he will be more willing to trudge on and fight. It’s when that belief doesn’t exist that he will spiral down into telling himself it’s hopeless.
It’s not hopeless, gentlemen.
It’s never hopeless.
I’m a shining example of what can be done if you truly reach out for help. I’ve only gained in my masculinity and my manhood by asking other men to help me achieve things in my own life.
Guys, if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide and depression in your life, the first thing you have to do is recognize the problem. The second thing you need to do is seek help from either a therapist, religious leader, or a men’s group of like minded men. The third? Action.
These things alone will help pull you from the chasm and get your life back on track. But be prepared to understand that it’s still on YOU and that you must take these steps to get your life back. The men can help you on the path, but you still have to take the steps to make it happen. Accountability and tough love are in for you, because you aren’t special, your problems are the problems of many other men, and a greater man can overcome these problems with relative ease compared to you.
You can’t just float and hope the wind blows. You still have to take positive, real ACTION for your life to get better. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it will always be. But the sooner you take action to pull yourself away from the chasm, the quicker your life will become a special work of art that has meaning to you again.
Guys, suicide and depression are real problems. I’m not going to pretend they don’t exist. But you have to reach out and get help. You have to accept you have a problem, you have to accept that you need help, and you have to accept the action needed to be taken by you to get past this.
Don’t be a statistic like my friend. I miss him every day. His family misses him. He took his life because of issues he couldn’t get over. He didn’t ask for help. He is no longer here. Please, please reach out for help.
My DM’s are always open on Twitter. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach out for help. I’m here for you.