Man Alert: Suicide of Anthony Bourdain Is A Wake Up Call

Suicides of Spade and Bourdain teach 4 actions to stop and 2 to start now

Posted Jun 09, 2018

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When a celebrity commits suicide, many ponder the question, "Why would someone who apparently has everything commit suicide?"  Often suicides are multi-causal, including a severe emotional disorder and bio-psychosocial stress

The recent tragic celebrity suicides can serve as a wake up call to men in particular, especially those facing severe life stress.  Men's risks of suicide increase with age and stress, including health challenges, financial/career challenges, relationship challenges, trauma, familial estrangement and isolation.

More Likely To Commit Suicide. 
More likely to commit suicide, almost 2/3 of worldwide suicides are committed by men. Less likely to seek therapy, only about 1/3 of people in therapy were men according to the 2012 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association.  
Though men have shorter lifespans than women, the fact that they are less likely to get help and more likely to commit suicide might key us into why we should help men to overcome their conditioning.  

Four Actions To Stop And Two Actions To Start
Stop Buying Into Traditional Gender Norms.  
When do boys and young men begin to hear phrases like “shake it off” when they feel pain?  When do they begin to learn to “man up” or be a “real man”?  When does this begin to mean that they should hide their emotional side?  Often it starts early.

Men feel a pressure to conform to the traditional gender norms;  often they’ve been programmed to do so.  These can include hiding sadness, being tough, showing no fear, expressing no pain, and more.  This norm is called hegemonic masculinity, and it can lead men to suffer in silence.

Stop Letting Life Problems Cause Emotional Isolation.  So, what is a man to do if he begins to experience a real life problem that includes heightened stress and emotional pain?  

Traditional gender norm programming dictate that a man view his mental health symptoms as a sign of weakness and vulnerability.  In such a case, they may try to make the best of it, bottle stuff up, and “power through.”

Stop Avoiding Mental and Medical Care.  It’s unfortunate that this can lead to the avoidance of talking to someone.  This can extend into the medical domain; sometimes mental health symptoms are signs of underlying medical problems.

Stop Repressing Your Feelings.  While a man might repress emotions such as sadness, loss, loneliness, alienation and fear, he may see anger and action as acceptable.  
In some cases, this can lengthen a man’s emotional problems and worsen their life situations.  It can lead men to act-out when feeling despair, for example.  
This acting out can take aggressive forms such as irritability, hostility, road rage or fighting.  Alternatively, it can be disguised as substance abuse, sexual acting out, gambling, compulsive behaviors, para-addictions or other unhelpful negative behavior.

Start Seeing Help-seeking As Smart and Brave.
It's a trap to see it otherwise:  If a man can’t “be a man” AND have a problem, why would he talk to a professional or another trusted resource?
Men who are encouraged to share, to seek help, to seek guidance, and reach out may fare better than those who are discouraged and/or isolated.  
For example, married men tend to be encouraged by their spouses to seek medical care and mental health care, which may be part of the reason they live longer than unmarried men.

Start Shifting From Programming To Possibility.  Men can begin to reprogram themselves to adopt healthier ideas, which lead to healthier emotions and healthier action.  
1.    Learning to lean into their problems.  Staying conscious and aware of challenges, such as economic or career stress, relationship problems, etc.  often leads to solutions faster than avoidance.
2.    Learning to connect more.  While the man cave can provide solitude and rest, eventually coming out of the cave and talking to a respected mentor, family member, friend, therapist, spiritual advisor, or life coach lead to quicker solutions.  
3.    Let’s talk.  Seeing communication as something  brave people do might begin to help men to commune with others.  Often two heads are better than one.  
4.    Practicing the stance of learner.  Studying and learning help men to practice connecting with their “beginner mind,” fostering comfort  in humility rather than shame in not knowing it all.  
5.    Invest 10% in your Personal Growth and Development.  Learn to question your thinking through cognitive therapy.  Hire a coach as a confidant to help you work toward a meaningful long-term goal.  Attend success training to surround yourself with growth-oriented people.  Read and listen to positive, uplifting messages that train you to embrace your feelings while seeing possibilities beyond problems.
6.    Self-care.  Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and meditate.  

Dr. Pam Garcy is a psychologist, life coach, and best-selling author in Dallas, Texas.  You can learn more about questioning your thoughts in her book The REBT Super Activity Guide, available on


Dan Bilsker, PhD, Jennifer White, EdD,BCMJ, vol. 53 , No. 10 , December 2011 , Pages 529-534

C. SGOBBA APR 25, 2016, Men's Health, Why Are Suicide Rates Rising For Middle Aged Men?