Learning To Love To Stop Male Suicide

Like many projects in Australia, Stop Male Suicide is committed to reducing the number of people who die by suicide every year.

One the characteristics that makes us difference, is our willingness to focus on the role that ‘love’ can play in helping us to Stop Male Suicide.

We don’t have all the answers, but we are prepared to explore and consider whether helping men love their lives; helping men feel loved; and helping the world to love men and boys, can make a difference.

To develop this conversation further, we’ll be publishing a series of articles on the Stop Male Suicide website in 2016,  exploring the role of love in suicide prevention. If you’d like to contribute and article or have a story to share with us, please email StopMaleSuicide@gmail.com.

There are four areas in particular we aim to focus on:

  • Self Love
  • Supportive Love
  • Societal Love
  • Spiritual Love

SELF LOVE

Could suicide be described as the ultimate expression of an absence of Self Love? What does the phrase ‘he loves himself’ mean to you? Do you see it as a description of an egotistical male who ‘thinks he’s God’s gift to life’ or a way to describe an emotionally mature man who exudes a calm, quiet confidence?

According to Martin Seligman, a pioneer of positive psychology, there are three key paths to happiness.

  • Lead a ‘pleasant’ life: which involves doing things that bring you pleasure
  • Lead a good life: which involves doing what you’re good at
  • Lead a ‘meaningful’ life: which involves having a purpose in life

Nicolas Raymond Flickr

All three paths involve doing what you love and loving what you do. But is loving your life, the same as loving your self? And could creating a world where we empower all men and boys to pursue a life of happiness have a role to play in helping us to Stop Male Suicide?

Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

SUPPORTIVE LOVE

One of the great tragedies of male suicide is that while the man who dies from suicide may have felt unloved and unlovable, he often leaves behind family and friends who clearly loved him.

As the British TV presenter, June Sarpong, said following the suicide of her brother in 2016: “For anybody even considering it, even having those thoughts, I beg you on behalf of the people you love, on behalf of your family, your family, the teacher whose favourite student you were, don’t do it, because that pain doesn’t go, that pain gets dumped on the people you love.”

For many men who die by suicide, that supportive love exists, our question then is what role (if any) could that supportive love play in helping us the prevent suicide in the future? Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

SOCIETAL LOVE

Do modern societies have enough love and compassion for men or are we too tolerant of the harm that happens to men and boys?

According to LIFE Communications, the National Suicide Prevention Strategy project managed by On The Line for Department of Health in Australia, male suicide prevention initiatives need to “value men [and] acknowledge and celebrate men’s strengths and abilities and the roles they play in families and communities” rather than focusing on deficits and problems.

But what does this mean in practice? Can loving men more, valuing men more, acknowledging and celebrating men more, play a role in helping us to Stop Male Suicide? Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

SPIRITUAL LOVE

What role can spiritual love play in suicide prevention, by which we mean men’s love of the spiritual side of their masculinity?

In 2003, the theme of the 10th annual conference of Suicide Prevention Australia had as its theme “Finding Meaning to Sustain Life: The Place of Spirituality in Suicide Prevention”.  In a keynote presentation, Associate Professor David Tacey of LaTrobe University, Melbourne said:

 “I am delighted that spirituality and suicide prevention are being brought together on the agenda. They belong together, and now more than ever, since the modern individual is no longer protected by the old meaning structures of religion or philosophy, but has to struggle to find meaning in new ways.”

David went on to write a paper called Spiritual Perspectives on Suicidal Impulses in Young Adults in which he wrote that:

“Suicide can be read in terms of a rite of passage which has taken a tragic turn…‘Loss of soul’ can undermine our life in an instant. It can cause us to be disturbed, depressed and confused [and experience] numerous other symptoms, such as…suicidal ideation…We are ‘dis-eased’ at the level of meaning, and most of our theories are unable to access this level, because they do not take the spiritual dimension into account. Spirit is seen as too abstract for science to be bothered with”.

Can exploring the role of spiritual love in male suicide prevention help us Stop Male Suicide? Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Send us an email on: StopMaleSuicide@gmail.com

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