Not Feeling the Best


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Unpacking men's narratives on suicide and depression by Barry Taylor. SPINZ Symposium, Christchurch, 2005.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Spiritual
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Not Feeling the Best

  1. 1. Not Feeling the Best: Men’s Narratives onSuicide and Depression Barry Taylor Taylor Made Consultancy
  2. 2. Men & Suicide How Do We Explain It?• Many dimensions to understanding the phenomenon of the over representation of males in suicide statistics• Cannot just be explained through the lens of psychiatric epidemiology
  3. 3. Men & Suicide How Do We Explain It?• Expand the narrative from mad, bad and sad.• Suicide prevention strategies must be inclusive of a range of disciplines and analysis.• That which is NOT included is just as important as that which is.
  4. 4. Men & Suicide How Do We Explain It?• Also need to look at: – Sociological – Gender Roles – Social Construction of notions of mental illness, seeking help, counselling – Internal vs External Resiliency
  5. 5. Men & Suicide How Do We Explain It?• Males traditionally over represented in the statistics for deaths by suicide.• The generational cluster who came to our attention 1986 - 1994 are still represented in suicide statistics
  6. 6. Men & Suicide How Do We Explain It?• What was the experience / values / worldview of this generational cluster that contributed to the rise of depression and suicide?• Generation Y young women are taking on more male risk taking behaviours.
  7. 7. Men & Suicide How Do We Explain It?• Spirituality has something to offer: – Connection – Meaning – Purpose – Hope• Common themes as Resiliency literacy
  8. 8. Men & Suicide How Do We Explain It?• Male Spirituality, rites of passage help young man to experience and understand sense of: – Mortality – Limitations – Vulnerability – Living within a social system
  9. 9. Men & Suicide How Do We Explain It?• Need to understand the impact of Shame - “mate”• Sense of forgiveness of self / others• “Utu” - restoring / making right – Compassion – Restorative justice – Reciprocity
  10. 10. Men & Suicide Discourse of Depression• Different discourses but some similar themes across contexts: – Not on top of it – Going through a rough patch – Feeling out of sorts – Not coping – Feeling flat• Tends to neutralise - does not indicate the depth of emotions experienced
  11. 11. Men & Suicide Discourse of Depression• Masked Depression: – Feelings of sadness replaced with rage, anger, violence, sabotaging, acting out behaviour• Aim of therapeutic interventions and mental health promotion messages should be an invitation to explore in depth.
  12. 12. Men & Suicide Discourse of Depression• Identification of emotions must be balanced with ability to reach out.• Expectation for “people to know”• Degree of proactiveness of mates does socio-economic determinants – Young Mens Study - Jesuit Social Services
  13. 13. Men & Suicide Discourse of Depression• Stigma in naming Depression• However when named there can be relief - may explain why they are feeling this way• After naming there can be a reluctance to engage with treatment• Treatment challenges “ability to cope”
  14. 14. Men & Suicide Discourse of Depression• Risk calculation in compliance with treatment• Arapax vs Climax - impact of medication on sexual functioning• Challenge is to have men to talk with each other about their depression and the ways of dealing with it.
  15. 15. Men & Suicide Discourse of Depression• While men may be comfortable to talk to women about problems - need to challenge the myth that men won’t talk with men• Create community dialogue lead by social commentators – Example of John Kirwan – Beyond Blue Initiative
  16. 16. Men & Suicide Discourse of Depression• Influence of behaviour by significant males – Sons of Vietnam Veterans were 50% of client of VVCS.• Positive outcomes for young men with depression and behavioural issues in mentoring programmes.
  17. 17. Men & Suicide Discourse of Depression• Challenge to both clinicians and mental health promoters• Need for more qualitative research on men’s experience of depression• More men especially from over represented groups eg Maori men to participate in the solution finding
  18. 18. Men & Suicide Take home points• Draw on a range of disciplines to understand men’s experience of depression• Mental health promotion messages need to be developed by men for men• Mental health promotion messages must be careful not to denigrate men and masculinity but use that which we see as barriers to become solutions