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Johnoco

Suicide/Mental Issues

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Just heard last night that a lad I used to work with until recently had taken his own life. He was a right good lad, always having a joke at work and a bit of banter. He had a young family too. I wasn't that close to him but had a good few nights out with him and genuinely liked the guy.
 

Feel a bit sick about it, so god knows how his Mrs is gonna cope.

I had thought we were making progress with things like Andy's Man Club etc and more general openness. But in fact, are we? Are some men so unable to reach out and ask others for help??

 

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It's a major issue, and just as much for women as men.  I'll admit complete ignorance of mental health issues before 2010 when my wife became really ill, I was just as ignorant of the issues and prevalence of it in the UK as I'd imagine the vast majority of the country would be.  I've had my eyes opened properly to it since then.

Most folk who end up in mental health institutions do so because they hide things for too long then they mentally have that one last straw that pushes them too far.

Workplace and social stigma exists and it's a core reason why people keep it hidden away.  Here's some narrative of that from my perspective.

On the social side, I'd say about half of my wife's friends deserted her over the space of a couple of years after her first time in hospital, good f***ing riddance to them.  The other half became stronger friends and a few people who were mere acquaintances at the time have become her strongest friends over this issue.  One of her "friends" told me that she was walking away because she was fed up of my wife's problems and she should have snapped out of it by now.

My wife's workplace were so far out of order with her that it's beyond belief.  After she got out of hospital first time*, she wasn't fit to go back to work by any means so they started pressing. They said they were going to half pay (fair enough) and were calling in their insurers to get them to pay for it (again, fair enough).  I acted as chaperone at a joint meeting with them (my wife, the company and insurers), all the talk was about her coming back to work and they couldn't care if she was fit or not, it was come back or we'll stop paying.  My wife agreed to give it a go, the insurer's MENTAL HEALTH NURSE who was present then said "so, we need to work out some safeguards for you and your colleagues, for example we need to have a policy for if they come in and find you hanging from the lampshade", it went downhill rapidly from there. 

The company then to get rid of her made up a fake "redundancy" scheme where coincidentally only one person from her team was to be cut and they added a new line to their standard redundancy test of "number of sick days in the last year".  Of course given my wife had been off for months she was "chosen.".  Again, that didn't help with a very unwell wife.

Short-story is that I fixed it but from a position of privilege that most people don't have access to in their normal life.  The outcome was that everyone who saw how my wife was treated learned that you keep your mouth shut and suck it up if you have a mental health issue.

* Side note, the only reason she was out was because her insurance stopped paying and we ran out of money so she was discharged regardless of her state of mind, yay for privatised medicine...

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33 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

Just heard last night that a lad I used to work with until recently had taken his own life. He was a right good lad, always having a joke at work and a bit of banter. He had a young family too. I wasn't that close to him but had a good few nights out with him and genuinely liked the guy.
 

Feel a bit sick about it, so god knows how his Mrs is gonna cope.

I had thought we were making progress with things like Andy's Man Club etc and more general openness. But in fact, are we? Are some men so unable to reach out and ask others for help??

 

My personal view is that in some ways we are a lot more informed about it but in others there's a really long way to go.

It's an easy win for people to say things like, "Reach out to your friends" and/or "Talk about your mental health". The thing is, in a practical sense, there's less support out there for people than ever. Little Ginger really needs mental health support but because he's not suicidal or violent *right now* there's no way he'd get onto the local list for it ... and if he was then he'd get an appointment about three months off. When I had anxiety so severe I was signed off work (and eventually was made redundant) the NHS could offer me an unqualified advisor who had no remit to talk about my issues but could offer only templates of what cognitive behavioural therapy looks like. A year later I was able to access better support via an employer's support scheme - but even that was only phone based and was limited to six hours.

Another side is that mental health problems often look really unpleasant. Depression leads to bad choices. Bad choices like drinking too much. But nobody is going to be sympathetic to the drunk in the corner shouting abuse at the pub. He's just a bumhole. But he knows he's a bumhole. So he drinks more. And becomes less sympathetic.

But, for all the above, yes we are making progress. Suicide rates for men are still ridiculously high but (I believe) they are falling, albeit gradually. The snowflake generation have grown up with much less rigid definitions of masculinity and I think that will help. Tiny Ginger certainly talks about emotions in a way that I don't remember any boy doing when I was his age. But then he's down here in the mollycoddled south in a public school - it was a bit different in a Bury primary school.

But - ignore all the above - I'm really sorry to hear about your friend. You say you're feeling a bit sick so I hope you're okay. I know his family will have it worse but don't compare yourself to them. If it's hit you hard, it's more than okay to acknowledge that.

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I think we're making progress in some areas but causing problems in others, particularly with the added preasures we put on ourselves on social media.

I haven't told anyone about this, and I suspect a certain amount of internet anonymity is the only reason I'm talking about this now, but this time last year I was suicidal, my wife knows I was suffering severe depression but even she doesn't really know how bad I was. I'd gone as far as drafting my suicide note to my wife. What saved me in the end was google. There are certain things that if you google come up something like "Perhaps you should call the Samaritans on this number, or click here and we'll put you through".

That shook me enough get out of it, but honestly I'm scared witless that I get like that again. I think for me some of it is seasonal, and I did notice some improvement when I started on a vit D3 supplement shortly after that (obviously I'm not suggesting that's everyones issue), but more so were family issues, particularly around my brother who I haven't got on with for some time. A big benefit for me was, while not cutting him out of my life (my mum would never let me regardless of what effect he's having on me) I don't engage or take what he says seriously anymore.

It's been a tough 12 months as just as I'd recovered from that I ended up being hospitalised for the abscess in May (which I did post about at the time) but I'm still scared about ever getting in that state again. If it does happen again I will recognise it and seek help earlier. The strange bit is that somehow I didn't realise what was happening, and I hope that I can recognise that earlier next time.

I just thought I'd edit this to add that if anyone reading this is struggling and doesn't know what to do, trying ringing the Samaritans and saying "I think I need some help". You're not wasting their time.

Edited by RidingPie
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It is getting better. But when you are going through it, it is really, really hard. And that is a symptom of the condition.

Going to Andy's Man Club, for example, is a great way to get stuff off your chest. But just stepping through that door is so, so hard the first time. It took them 3 hours of constant emails to convince me to go the first time. And even then I almost turned around when I got there.

Similar with The Samaritans. Pretty much everyone knows they are there, but until you actually need them you don't realise how hard it is contact them. That was the lowest point in my life and I felt like a total failure.

I was lucky in that my condition was spotted and dealt with relatively early. As a result I was able to get the help I needed (and still need). Unfortunately that is not always the case. That's because taking that first step is so very, very hard. And when you are going through it you just don't think it, or you, are worth it.

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So many people advise that talking is the first step to getting better - I don't disagree but what is very very difficult is actually understanding that you do actually need to talk.

During this summer, being out of work, has been the hardest, loneliest period of my life. I didn't think I was mentally ill, just thoroughly p*ssed off with the situation and angry. It was only when I received another knock back letter that I cried and cried and cried, feeling like that was it - the house would be gone, my family would hate me and my social life would never be the same again, that I realised I needed help - I was depressed.

The one person who I thought would be most disappointed in me turned out to be my best medicine and counsellor - my wife.

I'm in work now, still not great as my confidence levels are at rock bottom and the constant fear of returning to that horrible place does weigh on my mind

For the first time in my life I can understand why somebody would chose to take their own life and that in itself scares me - I will get better but for every person I hear about like in the OP I just wish I had the chance to hug them and say "come on mate, let's have a chat..."

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I have found support in the workplace through other colleagues by volunteering myself as a mental health champion with the support of mental health charities like Mind and Time to Change https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

Through this, myself and like minded people who I work with, have been able to reshape our relations with management, HR and colleagues by doing lunchtime presentations on mental health, our experiences and the help we can offer others as mental health champions.

For myself this has been a positive and carthartic way of making sense of my own personal mental health experiences, while at the same time helping others speak up and speak out on something that affects 1 in 4 people at some point in time.

 

 

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agree modern pressures don't help, social media, constant barrage of bad news on tv and radio, adverts on tv about every disease known to man on a loop, the general speed of life around you is mind boggling, sometimes a walk down the canal with the dog with the ipod on or with a mate chatting for an hour can do you the world of good, im lucky to have a wealth of friends who are 100 percenters , but then some people don't and that's sad, eg a divorce can result in you losing lots of the friends you were friends with in couples

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8 minutes ago, graveyard johnny said:

agree modern pressures don't help, social media, constant barrage of bad news on tv and radio, adverts on tv about every disease known to man on a loop, the general speed of life around you is mind boggling, sometimes a walk down the canal with the dog with the ipod on or with a mate chatting for an hour can do you the world of good, im lucky to have a wealth of friends who are 100 percenters , but then some people don't and that's sad, eg a divorce can result in you losing lots of the friends you were friends with in couples

My relaxation was running - I got up to 100 miles per month then I had the incident where a car came through the window of the barbers that I was waiting in and put paid to that for 3 months -that was tough to take and only just now back to running about 5 miles per week

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15 minutes ago, Kenilworth Tiger said:

My relaxation was running - I got up to 100 miles per month then I had the incident where a car came through the window of the barbers that I was waiting in and put paid to that for 3 months -that was tough to take and only just now back to running about 5 miles per week

must be rough in hook if they ram raid the barbers while its open! only joking mate, great to know you are on the road to a full recovery.

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2 minutes ago, graveyard johnny said:

must be rough in hook if they ram raid the barbers while its open! only joking mate, great to know you are on the road to a full recovery.

That was on a good day! 

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Toxic masculinity, starts young when we’re told “big boys don’t cry” carries on at school amongst teenage boys, then the factory, the army, the Rugby club, all environments where “toughness” is a virtue and any show of empathy or compassion can be derided as being a “puff” or a “big girl”

We’ve all done it, messaged our friends to “stay strong” when they’ve had a tragedy.

Suicide  is the biggest single killer of men under 45. We need to know that it’s ok not to be ok. 

Edited by Phil
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1 hour ago, Kenilworth Tiger said:

That was on a good day! 

I know its off thread but I cant get the image of hooded ram raiders grabbing as many combs and tubs of brylcreem as they can get before they reverse back out, and maybe something for the weekend!

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I work in an environment where mental health is high on the agenda. This week on the staff intranet someone had put a series of cartoons saying imagine if physical illness was treated in the same way as mental health.  these included a diabetic injecting and the words were something about it being wrong to take drugs to feel normal.

This will continue to be a  problem until the government take it seriously with  more safe havens for people in crisis.  

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47 minutes ago, Phil said:

Toxic masculinity, starts young when we’re told “big boys don’t cry” carries on at school amongst teenage boys, then the factory, the army, the Rugby club, all environments where “toughness” is a virtue and any show of empathy or compassion can be derided as being a “puff” or a “big girl”

We’ve all done it, messaged our friends to “stay strong” when they’ve had a tragedy.

Suicide  is the biggest single killer of men under 45. We need to know that it’s ok not to be ok. 

I completely agree with all your points and that's why it's so important that "tough man" sports like rugby league play prominent parts in things like the State of Mind campaigns.

On your last paragraph though, it's also important to remember that the numbers of people per year don't go down as people get older, it's just that other mortality causes take over the lead.  Last time I saw the stats, roughly the same number of people per age group over 45 committed suicide as equivalent age groups under 45.

I think there's a responsibility on workplaces to do more as well.  I remember when I worked at a law firm and we had a mental health briefing, they were annual events, and they were about educating us what to look for in our peers.  For example, "City" folk have a high suicide rate over 50 when careers start to tail off and folk start to realise that there's not much else for them.  It's the same as sports professionals, their career ends and it's been their life since very young ages, they don't know what to do next.

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Good to read the replies on here. At least people on here can chat about this and not feel embarrassed about it.

We disagree about plenty on here but ATEOTD, we can all help each other or friends to reach out to us and let them know, somebody does give a toss.

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First of all I am sorry to read the experiences in the OP.  I remember as a girl of 14 trying hard to support my then best friend as she and her family tried to contend with her brother committing suicide following a family row.  I had no idea how to handle the person with whom I had enjoyed endless giggles and fun times breaking down in terrible racking tears in the middle of a lesson or the shocking guilt that drove the family apart.  All I could do was follow her lead, even when it took me to the funeral home, standing beside an open coffin as she said goodbye to her brother.

I must confess to being torn over the recent development encouraging people to talk about their mental health challenges.  Like everyone else on the planet, I have experienced periods of mental ill-health, but I do wonder whether we risk neglecting the building of resilience in our understandable quest to address the legacy of the 'stiff upper lip' and overall neglect of mental health conditions and mental ill health generally.

For example, in a post above someone mentioned City workers who in their 50s find themselves in crisis because their work is ending and they 'have nothing else'.  Is the solution to encourage those people to talk about their mental state or to address their work/life balance before they reach their 50s?  Obviously catastrophe and/or extreme stress can occur at any time, out of the blue or over a sustained period, and those events or periods are exceptional and so even with well honed resilience people can be knocked off their feet.  But I just wonder whether the conversation needs to broaden a bit to include resilience, to include how we live our lives before events occur (some of which, like loss of job, are quite usual rather than exceptional), in order to avoid reaching the point where we find ourselves (understandably) contemplating calling the Samaritans.

I'm not sure I've articulated my thoughts very well but I will say that I'm not talking about specific mental illnesses here such as bi polar disorder or chronic depression but rather the mental ill health we can all encounter as a result of painful events or enduring life experiences which put an otherwise mentally healthy person under real strain.  Based on the few years I spent working at a mental health unit I would say dealing with specific mental illnesses are a different matter IMO.

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To Saintlass, I think there's a good point in there. Sometimes we all hit difficult and hard times and you feel like going 'aarrgggh' and that you can't go on...yet invariably, we do. I know I have got through stuff by simply focussing on work for a while or merely just plodding on until things change - which they do.

But this isn't for everyone and we aren't all made the same. So we have to ensure that when somebody reaches that low point where they feel like ending it all, there's the message out there that you can take a different path.

Not easy when someone is so low though.

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Very sad news,

I need to apologise. For many years I was dismissive of the mental health issues that, as a student, a number of friends and colleagues were facing. Maybe as a stereotypical, staunch bastion of the 'Yorkshire' way, I never saw the true implications of mental health and dismissed them with equally negative value. 

I have grown to learn that life is very different in reality and in my own job, I feel an enormous sense of injustice in life itself. Mental health issues have transformed in relevance from nothingness, to the most influential aspect of my work. 

For those suffering from anxiety, stress, a feeling of short-coming or lack of worth, please, please talk to someone. Every problem has a solution, even if we can't see it for ourselves.

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I think things are getting more open, but not necessary 'better'.  By that I mean, there is more awareness in work places, but not always any help.  I opened up to managers who, were great but they wanted HR involved (naturally).  HR were pretty useless, in fact beyond useless.  I wasn't asking for any changes or exceptions, but making them aware and to see if occupational health could help.  Its been a year and zero contact with me from HR (apart from filling in a 'permission' form) or from occupational health.  I think they couldn't get their heads around the fact that I wasn't off work, or asking for time off, they seemed set up purely to get people back into work, rather than act before hand.  Work was probably the only constant that moved a week along, so I didn't want time off.

And now there is the danger of redundancy, and I can't afford to be ill.  Good news is I can truthfully say I haven't had a sick day in years.  

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5 hours ago, Saintslass said:

First of all I am sorry to read the experiences in the OP.  I remember as a girl of 14 trying hard to support my then best friend as she and her family tried to contend with her brother committing suicide following a family row.  I had no idea how to handle the person with whom I had enjoyed endless giggles and fun times breaking down in terrible racking tears in the middle of a lesson or the shocking guilt that drove the family apart.  All I could do was follow her lead, even when it took me to the funeral home, standing beside an open coffin as she said goodbye to her brother.

I must confess to being torn over the recent development encouraging people to talk about their mental health challenges.  Like everyone else on the planet, I have experienced periods of mental ill-health, but I do wonder whether we risk neglecting the building of resilience in our understandable quest to address the legacy of the 'stiff upper lip' and overall neglect of mental health conditions and mental ill health generally.

For example, in a post above someone mentioned City workers who in their 50s find themselves in crisis because their work is ending and they 'have nothing else'.  Is the solution to encourage those people to talk about their mental state or to address their work/life balance before they reach their 50s?  Obviously catastrophe and/or extreme stress can occur at any time, out of the blue or over a sustained period, and those events or periods are exceptional and so even with well honed resilience people can be knocked off their feet.  But I just wonder whether the conversation needs to broaden a bit to include resilience, to include how we live our lives before events occur (some of which, like loss of job, are quite usual rather than exceptional), in order to avoid reaching the point where we find ourselves (understandably) contemplating calling the Samaritans.

I'm not sure I've articulated my thoughts very well but I will say that I'm not talking about specific mental illnesses here such as bi polar disorder or chronic depression but rather the mental ill health we can all encounter as a result of painful events or enduring life experiences which put an otherwise mentally healthy person under real strain.  Based on the few years I spent working at a mental health unit I would say dealing with specific mental illnesses are a different matter IMO.

On the bold part, the briefings we had were all about building resilience.  Encouraging people to find alternative/second interests that will hold them and making it clear that if you put your entire life into ONE thing then you will inevitably lose it at some point and then you have nothing.  Look at our own sport's past when people's careers are suddenly ended and they have nothing behind them.  The further you get towards the top of a career, whether it's rugby league or as a lawyer, the more narrow and fewer secondary interests those people tend to have.

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12 hours ago, Phil said:

Toxic masculinity, starts young when we’re told “big boys don’t cry” carries on at school amongst teenage boys, then the factory, the army, the Rugby club, all environments where “toughness” is a virtue and any show of empathy or compassion can be derided as being a “puff” or a “big girl”

We’ve all done it, messaged our friends to “stay strong” when they’ve had a tragedy.

Suicide  is the biggest single killer of men under 45. We need to know that it’s ok not to be ok. 

I totally agree with what Phil has written apart from the first two words. I think there is an issue with the term "toxic masculinity". I understand and agree with Phil's definition of the term but young men are being bombarded with it and they're basically being told that being masculine is wrong, which it's not. 

As Phil said, it's OK not to be OK and it's also OK to be a man.

Edited by Wiltshire Rhino
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1 hour ago, Wiltshire Rhino said:

I totally agree with what Phil has written apart from the first two words. I think there is an issue with the term "toxic masculinity". I understand and agree with Phil's definition of the term but young men are being bombarded with it and they're basically being told that being masculine is wrong, which it's not. 

As Phil said, it's OK not to be OK and it's also OK to be a man.

I think the phrase 'toxic masculinity' is fine but I think if all boys (and men) hear are negatives about men, maleness, masculinity and the wonders of drawing willies in textbooks, then we have a problem. In fact, it's quite clear that a lot of boys and men do only hear the negatives - perhaps because we rarely talk about men as separate from society unless we're doing so to be highlight a negative.

An issue there is because 'man' has been the default and because 'men' have been at the top of the tree (and I'll add the obvious 'not all men' - just because all the people with power were men it does not mean that all men had power) that celebrating men in the same way you might celebrate the achievements of women is a problematic or awkward thing to do. And it can - as with lobster fetishist Jordan Peterson - often be linked with the kind of status quo desire that leads to many of the problems we've had in this thread. I don't think we're even close to solving that.

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My dad used to one of those who thought that depression was a myth and that all people needed to do was toughen up. That was until he retired young and suffered from depression. I'll always remember him sat there having lost the use of his legs to motor neurone disease saying he'd rather not be able to use his legs than suffer from depression. 

I'm going to make the rather predictable claim that it is an incredibly complex issue. I actually agree with Saintslass that there can be downsides to some of the discussions around mental health that don't involve proper diagnoses like bipolar etc.

I've always been what you would call a worrier and I see it painfully replicated in my 5 year old son. I don't look forward to social situations and will get wound up about parking when it's busy or making a phone call. However, some of the most rewarding and life-building experiences I've had are where I've done something despite my nervousness and worry. I wouldn't be the person I am had I not done many of these. I do wonder if I was 20 years younger whether I'd be told I had a form of anxiety and given the option to back out of things much more easily. For instance, I have a close family member and friend who seem not to do anything anymore that makes them feel remotely uncomfortable citing anxiety as the reason. IMO I don't think it is helping them. I see it a lot with children in schools too. 

On a totally separate point, I've just finished reading a book that indicates we are heading for a serious crisis with the new IGeneration especially amongst girls. Even compared to millennials, mental health issues and suicidal thoughts are way up. Social media seems to be the most likely culprit but there are other likely factors such as an overprotective parenting culture. 

 

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14 hours ago, graveyard johnny said:

I know its off thread but I cant get the image of hooded ram raiders grabbing as many combs and tubs of brylcreem as they can get before they reverse back out, and maybe something for the weekend!

20180702_144118.thumb.jpg.c47207292e5e4138f3ef6d2d524b19cf.jpg

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