Tag Archives: suicide

Domestic abuse and the abuse of men – and the plague of toxic masculinity

 Across the UK reports of domestic abuse have increased significantly. The police saw a 7% increase in violent domestic abuse reports, Victim Support report a 12% increase in referrals for domestic abuse cases, and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline saw a very concerning 65% increase in calls in just the first months of lockdown. These figures have continued to grow throughout the ongoing pandemic, and domestic abuse is a cause of enormous concern as resources continue to be overwhelmed and people remain in abusive relationships and situations that are reaching boiling point under the ongoing pressures of the pandemic.

The media has been drawing a lot of attention to these statistics, and attempting to find support for resources which offer help to victims. The main focus of this help has been for women and children, who have been victimised by their abusive partners and fathers.

Much of the media coverage, however, doesn’t make much referral to resources for men who are suffering abuse, and who are being victimised in domestic abuse situations.

Men often find it much harder than women to escape abuse. They also find it harder to admit, or even to accept, that they are in an abusive relationship. Public response to men being abused is far less sympathetic, and can often make light or even ridicule those who are trying to ask for help, but it is just as dangerous for a man who is being abused as it is for a female victim.

Men in abusive relationships are at high risk of physical harm and even death, and especially so because the public response, and that of many services, doesn’t take their abuse as seriously, which means that men are ashamed or embarrassed to seek help, therefore find themselves trapped for longer without access to support and resources which could protect them from their abuser.

The legal repercussions for women who abuse men are also far less significant, which means that they are less protected from their abuser finding them again, or returning to the abusive relationship because their abuser gets off lightly and is still free to continue contacting, and therefore abusing, their victim.

One very public case shown regularly in the media in recent years was 22 year old Alex Skeel from Bedfordshire, who was found ‘days from death’ by police after neighbours reported a disturbance.  His then partner, Jordan Worth, admitted grievous bodily harm and coercive, controlling behaviour, after isolating Alex from his family and friends, and assaulting him with knives, boiling water and a hot iron, among other incidents. Jordan was jailed for seven and a half years for the abuse, and Alex is now very active as a public speaker, regularly appearing in the media, campaigning to raise awareness and support for men who are abused.

Sickeningly, a significant amount of the public response to the news stories, including comments on news stories and posts on Twitter, have seen people ridiculing Alex, making jokes about the abuse he suffered, and taunting him for publicly speaking about his experiences.

Which is precisely why he continues to do it. To raise awareness of how terrifying living with abuse is, and how incredibly dangerous it is for authorities and services to see it as ‘less significant’ and thus less serious or damaging than a man abusing a woman.

I wrote recently about the life-altering impact of shame, and how it can cause deep psychological issues – you can read that article here – and one thing many men who have been abused name as a lasting impact is shame; shame that they were abused, shame that they ‘were weak’ or that they are somehow less of a man.

This is not true. It simply isn’t. The mentality that ‘a real man’ couldn’t be abused, or that it’s somehow funny, is wholly inaccurate and damaging.

Toxic masculinity – the way that men are taught from a very young age that they should be tough, that they should not be soft or gentle, that they should be hard and unemotional, is poisonous.

Toxic masculinity, and the ingrained belief that men should never struggle with their emotional needs or mental health, that men should never cry, not talk about their feelings, should be physically and mentally tougher than women, and that their needs are insignificant or a sign of weakness and being somehow ‘lesser’, is precisely why more men are finding themselves in abusive relationships.

It is also why it is harder for them to seek, and receive, help. It is why the statistics for suicide are significantly higher in men. Because they have no way of processing, recovering from or surviving pain, trauma and mental ill health.

In fact; suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, and figures are increasing.

Suicide is directly linked to shame – and shame is a direct result of toxic masculinity. That toxicity is seeing more men die from abuse, or from suicide, and both could be avoided if people simply felt more able to speak honestly about their experiences, and receive support.

If you are struggling with shame, or have been the victim of abuse – either in the past or in your current life – please don’t continue to carry that pain alone. I can help, and am very experienced in working with men who have lived with abuse; you can contact me through this website, through FacebookLinkedIn or email on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com, or call me on 07849 037095 – you can also message or call via WhatsApp on the same number, and I offer video sessions for those who are still unable to meet in person.

You can also visit Mankind for more information and support for male victims of abuse https://www.mankind.org.uk/

World suicide prevention day – September 10th

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) have long campaigned to raise awareness for suicide, and the work that we can all do to support those with suicidal thoughts.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day – and I truly believe that we can all do our part to raise awareness of the impact that suicide can have, not only on those who struggle with those thoughts and who perhaps attempt to take their own lives, but also on those who are supporting suicidal or victims of suicide.

There are a lot of misconceptions about suicide – and it’s so important that we all speak more openly and honestly about how those dark thoughts can impact lives, and how mental health challenges as a whole are universal; ill mental health can impact anyone, no matter their circumstances.

Some statistics about suicide

Recent years have shown an increase in the number of deaths from suicide – not only in the UK but globally.

In the UK men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women; this raises to four times more likely in the Republic of Ireland. The highest suicide rate for men by age is in the 45-49 bracket across the UK and, on average, 13 men will take their own lives every day in the UK.

In young people, particularly in the under 25 range, the most recent statistics show an increase of almost 24% in the rate of deaths by suicide; this is a huge, and very worrying, climb which shows that young people are under incredible pressure – and this is a concern we need to address more directly. In Scotland this figure is an even more concerning 52.7% – the highest it has been for many years.

Why do we have a Suicide Prevention day?

Some question whether a day focused on speaking about suicide will ‘plant the idea’ – but as counselling and psychology professionals, we know that speaking honestly about those thoughts allows people to feel less alone and overwhelmed, and find support and tools to find a way through them, rather than acting on them.

Suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally, for people of all ages and from all backgrounds.

 This means that every 40 seconds, another person takes their own life.

These deaths don’t just impact the victim, but also their family, friends, colleagues, loved ones; the impact is wide reaching and life long. In fact, for every death by suicide, an average of 135 people are impacted and suffer with grief, guilt and associated trauma.

When you see that this means over 108 million people per year are profoundly impacted by suicide, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide and suicidal ideation, we have to recognise that this is a significant and avoidable amount of trauma which, with honest and open discourse, we can reduce significantly.

What are the signs someone might be suicidal?

There are a lot of signs, and most important to know is that any threats of suicide or voicing suicidal statements should be taken very seriously.

Signs that you should look out for and be aware of include:

  • Excessive sadness, moodiness or mood swings
  • Hopelessness
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Suddenly very calm after a period of depression
  • Withdrawal from social activities and work commitments
  • Unusual changes in personality or appearance
  • Risky behaviour
  • Self harming
  • Recent trauma or crisis
  • Making preparations or ‘putting life in order’
  • Threatening or talking about suicide

This is not a comprehensive list, and if you notice any concerning changes in someone you care about please don’t hold back from asking if they are ok, if they need support, or reaching out to a body or person you think could intervene for their protection.

What if I have suicidal thoughts?

One of the biggest dangers of suicidal thoughts is that, when we are in a dark place mentally, they can seem like an entirely logical solution to overwhelming feelings. The despair a person feels can entirely isolate them from their loved ones and avenues to support – so it’s important to check in on people and, when you find yourself in that frame of mind, to recognise that it will pass, and that it isn’t a true representation of our circumstances.

Reaching out to loved ones and friends can help – but it can also be very difficult.

There are a number of helplines which can be called free of charge if you are having suicidal thoughts:

Samaritans – for everyone

Call 116 123

Email jo@samaritans.org

 

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men

Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day

Visit the webchat page HERE

 

Papyrus – for people under 35

Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 9am to 10pm, weekends and bank holidays 2pm to 10pm

Text 07860 039967

Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

 

Childline – for children and young people under 19

Call 0800 1111 – the number will not show up on your phone bill

 

Get through today one breath at a time

 If you are struggling today, here are some tips to move through the crisis:

  • Concentrate on right now, not on the future
  • Don’t make any plans to act on the impulse
  • Avoid drugs, alcohol or any mood impacting substances
  • Go to a safe place – this could be your own bedroom, a friend’s house, a crisis centre etc
  • Talk to someone – a friend, family member, helpline or professional
  • Be around other people – if socialising feels too overwhelming, simply being in public can help
  • Engage in an activity you find soothing – watch a film, read a book, do a craft, go for a walk
  • Spend time with a pet if you have one
  • List positive things in your life; avoid falling into a negative list, focus on the good things
  • Exercise
  • Do something which relaxes you – walk in nature, take a bubble bath, meditate

You may well have felt this way before – and you know that it passes, even though it may not seem that way in the moment.

Help is available

Whether you have previously experienced professional support or not, there is no shame or barrier to accessing help when you are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

Whether you choose to call one of the helplines included above, your own GP, a family member or a counselling professional, you deserve and are worthy of help and support.

You do not need to battle these thoughts and fears alone – and there is nothing you can think or say which will prevent you from accessing or deserving this help.

If you would like to speak to me and work together on creating a crisis strategy, a wellness plan and work through the issues or incidents which may have caused your suicidal thoughts, please reach out to me through this website, via phone (call, text or WhatsApp on 07849 037095) or email me on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com

For more information on World Suicide Prevention Day and how you can help loved ones who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, visit the IASP website https://www.iasp.info/wspd2020/