Every year, young men – boys, really – with their entire lives ahead of them filled with endless possibilities and unrealized potential, take their own lives. Just one is too many; sadly, the number is so much higher. Why? What happens that is so terrible that the only solution they see is the permanent one?
Bullying is but one contributing factor; to lay blame on any particular cause is unfair to those who resort to suicide. After all, many people are bullied yet still make it to the other side of adolescence while others can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel; they lose hope. They give up on themselves and give into the temptation to quiet the pain.
If only they’d been able to talk to someone. It wouldn’t fix everything but it very well could’ve helped. Talking is such a small act with huge consequences; it can – and does – lighten the weight on a person’s mind. I have never contemplated suicide, so I can’t know what it’s like to open up but I have been on the other side, listening. I’ve seen how scary it can be, to open up and let someone in but I’ve also seen the way a person will slowly begin to see that it does get better. It just takes time, patience and trust in their inner strength.
One simply needs to ask.
Unfortunately, it can be tough getting those hurting boys to make the first move. Some don’t even know it’s okay to say “I hurt” thanks to so many still subscribed to the medieval notion that XY chromosomes need to be strong and silent and suck it up; the toxicity of Real Men culture is killing our boys.
What some people consider innocuous phrases like man up, boys don’t cry and grow a pair only reinforces the stereotype that boys gotta go it alone. It does nothing to help them resolve the issues dragging them down. For science’s sake, this is bloody 2015! Isn’t it about damn time we stopped holding boys up to these ridiculous and damaging standards and maybe, just maybe, treat them like human freaking beings? Y’know, like, filled with emotions and stuff?
Sticking to the tried-and-failed approach, all we get is more dead boys. And who knows what they could’ve accomplished? What innovations might they had brought forth? There are writers, actors, leaders and inventors we’ll never know now all because don’t be a girl is actually a thing said to boys who show even a hint of emotion. They don’t need to be told they don’t measure up, they need TLC. They need somebody to care they’re in hell and can’t find the way out.
(For the record, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a girl. Many of my favorite exes happen to be girls.)
Now, boys, this part’s for you.
Trust me when I say no one knows what the heck they’re talking about when they spout about how “Real Men do/don’t do…” Ignore that trash. Wanna know what a man is? A boy who made it to majority. An adult male. Also, an adult who identifies as male. Please, pay no mind to Real Men bs.
Once you, yes you, cast off the stupid societal restraints dictating you ignore all the feels – so outdated – you are free to express yourself. You are a fully formed, emotion-feeling proud owner of a penis (or, you know, you identify as one). You can feel all the feels as much as the feels need to be felt. Laugh, cry, scream, twerk (go ahead, I won’t judge) and get out what needs to get gone.
Be you. Whoever or whatever that is.
And get the help you need and deserve. You are worth the time and effort. You have so much more to offer than you realize right now. It gets better. If you give yourself the chance, you might even change the world. In the least, you’ll change someone’s world.
So talk about your feelings, tell someone you love and trust why you’re so sad. Or tell them you don’t know why and you need help to find out. Don’t give up on yourself. You’ve made it this far; keep going. You’re strong. You can reach out for help. You can open up. You can survive.
You are loved. You are cherished. You are worthy.
There is always someone willing to listen.
It may not seem like much but I promise that if you only give it a chance, you’ll see that the pain you find yourself suffering can be overcome. You are not alone in this battle. And you will win.
In the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help at 1 (800) 273-8255. In Canada, there’s an amazing organization aimed at boys 14-18 (which the US should emulate if they haven’t already for duh obvious reasons) called BroTalk; you can reach them online or by phone (1-866-393-5933).
You are not alone.
And in case nobody told you lately, I believe in you.