Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 117 people commit suicide every day. We've heard a version of those statistics before.
But did you know that men are 3.5x more likely to commit suicide than women?
Although research tells us that women are more prone to develop psychological problems such as depression (which is a case that usually precedes suicide), men are more likely to commit suicide. Men make up 79% of suicidal incidents in the US.
Last week, I went to Target with a friend to shop for Halloween Decorations. As I pass by the costume area, I witnessed something disturbing. A young boy wanted to buy a costume, but his mother was not paying attention as she was on the phone. After a few attempts to get her attention, she puts her phone on her breast and yells at the kid.
Naturally, the kid cries (note the world naturally). The mom returns to her conversation. She's smiling at whoever she is talking on the phone as if nothing happened. The kid, still crying, continues to pull on his mom's sweater.
"I said no," she yells at him, "take it like a man!"
Take it like a man. That's a phrase I've been heard over and over all my life.
Boys don't cry.
That's kinda gay.
I used the world naturally to describe the boy crying. A lot of people are annoyed by the sound of crying children (I am guilty of this- I've left movies because of the sound of kids crying). But for God's sake, the kid was around four years old and his mom just yelled and swore at him. That's pretty traumatizing. Sure, the kid might have been annoying, but his response was natural.
After all, we're born to this world crying, right?
Growing up, we are taught that crying is a very 'feminine' thing. Boys don't cry. We are taught that men don't express their feelings the way girls do. Take it like a man. We are taught that the men who talk or cry a lot are weak. So for years, those boys are bullied by their peers for not being masculine enough. They are picked on by other boys because that's what their parents taught them to do. They won't tell their parents in fear of disappointment. They grow up with mental disorders like anxiety and depression, but they don't tell anyone in fear of being judged.
It boggles me how some guys I know have such fragile masculinity. So fragile that wearing specific colors or even talking to certain people makes them feel uncomfortable. No, straight boys, wearing the color pink doesn't make you gay. Hanging out with gay people doesn't make you gay. Grooming your eyebrows doesn't make you gay either. I am friends with a lot of straight men from the South. Many of them are secure enough to talk about homosexuality without flinching. They don't have a problem telling me when they feel depressed or anxious. Because they are that secure with their masculinity.
They know that how you act, what you wear, and who you hang out with doesn't make you gay. Do you know what makes you gay? Liking other boys. Trust me, being in Victoria's Secret holding your girlfriend's purse while she shops doesn't make you like other boys. You don't become gay because you're having a stressful time and cried. Neither does getting your eyebrows done. Would you rather be a straight guy with good brows or mister unibrow with a long caterpillar on your forehead? Girls don't dig that.
The other day I saw a Tweet. It was a video of a barber using a razor to groom a man's eyebrows quoted saying "ladies, is this gay to you?" He wasn't even getting his eyebrows waxed, threaded, or plucked. The man grooming his eyebrows was a barber with a razor. The boy just doesn't want to look like his brows are about to fly off into the wilderness like a hairy bird. Is your masculinity really so fragile that getting groomed by a barber makes you unsure about your masculinity?
As a society, we are surrounded by all sorts of stigmas. Boys are taught not to deviate from what they should wear, what words to use, how to act, how to look, and how they should express how they feel. Stop telling our boys to bottle their feelings up. Parents, let them tell you how they feel. Let them tell you what is bothering them instead of telling them to deal with it as a 'man' would do. Instead of raising boys who will develop mental illnesses later because we taught them never to show how they feel, let's start a new culture with men who are not insecure to talk about emotions and problems. And have groomed eyebrows.
The suicide rate in the United States has surged to a 30-year high. While it is important to acknowledge that the suicide ratio for men and women is 3:1, remember than women commit suicide too. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or other mental disabilities, please seek help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me. I had to learn this the hard way.
Stop telling you boys that men don't cry. Stop telling them that expressing their emotion makes them gay. Stop telling them to take things 'like a man'. Because in the end, some men grow up suppressing years of emotions. The hard truth we need to realize is that some men don't cry- they kill themselves.