Men’s mental health: Why more men die from suicide and how you can learn the signs to save someone

Health

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — WAVY is turning November into “Movember.” Every Wednesday, we are featuring a story on the importance of men’s health.

This week, we are looking at mental health and why more men than women die from suicide.

While driving — and lost — we know, many men won’t stop and ask for directions or help. Mental health experts tell us that same independent attitude can be dangerous when it comes to depression.

“Please, please, step back from feeling that you need to do this alone,” said Dr. Mark Cotterell, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Cotterell knows his advice is not easy for most men to take. Women ask for help more often than men and the sad reality is that men are dying by suicide three times more often than women.

“Male suicides are not being prevented by giving people numbers and encouraging them to reach out for help,” said Michelle Peterson, executive director of the Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation.

The Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation is training teens and adults in Hampton Roads to recognize warning signs and reach out to those in need, which Peterson says can be especially effective for men.

“Because our studies show that men accept help when it is offered… but reaching out for it is another story,” she said.

Guns are another reason men are more likely than women to die. Men use firearms more often in their suicide attempts. Experts suggest when you or a loved one is feeling bad, lock up the weapons and the liquor cabinet. Alcohol takes away inhibitions and makes you more anxious.

“I’m not saying I’m going to scold you for it, I’m just trying to be realistic its not going to help your mental health,” Cotterell told WAVY.

If you want to feel better, the doctor prescribes staying active. Men who go to church, volunteer, join a sports team, or just socialize usually cope better, he said.

“Step away from the preconceived notion of, you have to be a man,” Cotterell said, adding people should just be themselves. There is never any weakness in fighting for yourself.

The SMP Foundation has a training called “Question, Persuade, Refer,” or QPR. It is offered for free to community groups, schools and individuals.

If you want more information on upcoming training events click here.

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