Trigger warning: This post deals with suicide.
The biggest killer of Australians between the ages of 15 and 44 is suicide.
Jono Nicholas, chief executive of online support service ReachOut, has referred to the epidemic as a “national tragedy”.
But why do the rates differ so drastically between men and women? Gus Worland, co-host of the Sydney Triple M Grill team, has a theory, backed by some very convincing research.
The issue lies with two words. Two words that are part of our everyday lexicon. An expression that we throw away mindlessly, rarely giving its meaning a second thought.
Two words that encapsulate the toxicity of masculinity. When we tell someone to “man up” – we mean don’t admit defeat, be brave, be strong, reject empathy, take risks, be powerful and most all, never, ever cry. The demand, along with phrases like “harden up”, “suck it up” and “be a man”, are all a perfect recipe for depression, anxiety and violence.
“A good man is loyal, wouldn’t cheat on you or backstab you or say something behind your back. A good man, if he was to have a problem with you, he’d tell you. A good man is not afraid to get angry or afraid to get sad or afraid to be himself in front of other people. . I’m gonna teach my son to be a good man, to be whatever he thinks is a man. If he wants to be a man that’s tough and manly, go right ahead. If he wants to be a man that wants to be a nurse, I’ll support him. I’ll say to him that a man is someone who can do what ever job they want and a man is someone who’s strong, not physically, but strong enough to be who ever they want to be.” . Hendrik is one of our Real Aussie Blokes, a portrait series about the experience of being an Aussie man. Check them all out at www.realaussieblokes.com. . #ManUp #RealAussieBlokes #boxing #exercise #goodman #mentalhealth #gender #masculinity #support #family #loyalty #itsokaytotalk #itsokaytocry #men #boys #growingup #parenting #genderroles #smashthestigma
And Worland has had enough.
His campaign “Man Up” described as “One bloke’s mission to save Aussie men” aims to address the male suicide crisis, “effect real social change and hopefully even save lives”.
Worland describes the Aussie man as “strong, stoic and tough as nails. He laughs in the face of fear; and if life ever gets him down he drinks a cup of concrete and hardens the fuck up.”
Ten years ago, Worland lost a friend to suicide. Ever since, he has been on a mission to find out how our expectations of what it is to “be a man” might be impacting the mental health of Aussie blokes.
Research indicates that men with mental health problems or suicidal ideation are significantly less likely to seek help than women. Traditional masculine norms encourage men to be independent, shy away from vulnerability, and deal with negative emotions through alcohol or substance abuse. One in four men also report to having “low levels of social support” meaning that they don’t feel emotionally connected to those around them.
The campaign to start a national conversation about men and mental health launches today.
We are excited to announce that the first episode of Man Up will air on Tuesday October 11th at 8:30pm on ABC TV (@abctv). Triple M Sydney (@triplemsydney) radio host Gus Worland embarks on a journey to discover the good, the bad, and the ugly of Australian masculinity. Along the way he uncovers a shocking truth; suicide is the leading killer of Australian men aged under 45. Having lost a best mate to suicide, Gus is on a mission to find out why we’re losing our Aussie men. You can watch the new trailer here: http://buff.ly/2caGEUn #ManUp #ABCManUp #documentary #Trailer #mentalhealth #mentalwellbeing #mentalillness #men #masculinity #australia #ABC #ABCTV #mission #itsokaytotalk
The website deconstructs the myth of “The Real Aussie Bloke” and also offers some funny and practical advice about how to go about the “Man Date” or conduct the “Mate Test”.
But Worland has gone one step further. On Tuesday October 11 at 8:30pm the ABC will air part one of the documentary “MAN UP – One bloke’s mission to save Aussie men”. It documents Worland’s journey around Australia, listening to men’s stories, and exploring why suicide is never the answer.
Today, we can start by throwing out the expression “man up”. We can stop saying “grow some balls”, as if being a man is somehow synonymous with unwavering strength. We can keep talking to our dads, husbands, sons, brothers and friends.
If we do this, one day “being a man” won’t be such a dangerous thing.