Watching Men Read Their Suicide Notes Is a Powerful Public Service Announcement

September 17th 2016

Depression and other mental health struggles are often erroneously thought of as women's issues, despite the fact that this is far from the truth. Suicide, in particular, leads to far more male deaths than female deaths every year. In fact, men are a whooping 3.5 times more likely than women to take their own life, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

But one PSA is seeking to change that.

Produced by the Movember Foundation — the same men's health group that encourages men to try to grow a mustache during the month of November to raise prostate cancer awareness — the heart-wrenching new PSA shows men reading old suicide notes out loud.

While the stories start out on a somber note, they have an encouraging ending. The men featured are actually reading their own letters and decided not to follow through but to get help instead. Now they're encouraging other men "to talk when things get tough," too.

The PSA points to a disturbing problem: Society often discourages men from talking about or displaying emotion, leading them to bottle up feelings that may sometimes have deadly consequences.

As the Movember website explains: "Globally, the rate of suicide is alarmingly high, particularly in men. Too many men are 'toughing it out,' keeping their feelings to themselves and struggling in silence."

Men's suicide rates have outpaced women for years, even though both men and women suffer from depression, which is a known risk factor for suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death for British men under 50, and middle-aged white males living in the American West are three times more likely to die of suicide than the national average, according to FiveThirtyEight's number crunchers.

Although the push to "man up" and not talk about difficult emotions isn't the only reason men are more likely to die of suicide, it's definitely not helping. As Matt Haig, author of "Reasons to Stay Alive," explains:

"Mental health is hard enough to talk about sometimes, given the stigma that still surrounds the illness. There is still the wrong idea that depression is a character flaw, that it is always about something. But for men, it is doubly hard because we are not really encouraged, by ourselves mainly, to talk about being ill."

And this is exactly what the men featured in Movember's PSA seek to change: they want to encourage men to talk. Because as the haunting words that start the video remind us, "Suicide notes talk too late."

Watch the full PSA below:

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, particularly suicidal thoughts, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also find more resources to help you or a loved one deal with depression through the National Alliance on Mental Health.

(H/t Upworthy)

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