Why do men commit suicide? Is there a darkness that descends which is inescapable, so much so that the only relief is to take one's life?
Surely, this is an issue for women as well as men, but with statistics released at the end of September by the ABS, men are four times more likely to die at their own hands than women. Beyond Blue give us the grim picture that more than seven people will commit suicide every day in Australia (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention).
In a new documentary being shown on the ABC called "Man Up", Radio Presenter, Gus Worland, shares with his viewers, "The number one way to lose your life if you are an Aussie bloke aged between 15 and 44 is suicide. It's not drugs and it's not car accidents. We're losing so many young men and nobody is talking about it." Worland shares his own experience of losing his best mate through suicide, taking him nearly nine years to come to terms with it.
With less than a few weeks from November, we will be reminded by the almost ubiquitous semi-formed mustaches, that this is the month for talking about men's health. Movember is in fact one of the most successful social movements in recent history, focussed on getting men to look after themselves, physically and mentally. By normalising issues which men have traditionally avoided discussing, the campaign brings into the open those things that men keep hidden.
Christian men are by no means exempt from hidden pain. I was recently stunned to hear from someone who some years ago could think of nothing else but suicide, when on the surface their life looked normal. It was a lesson to me that men lack a capacity to share with one another as well as the capacity to pick up on what is going on beneath the surface with others.
Jesus told a hostile crowd once that he came to give life and to give it to the full. He doesn't steal from us, seek to destroy us or grind us into the ground, like our enemy, the devil. It seems to me that Christian men particularly need to draw strength from the means God has given us in the church to share in the community that Jesus gave himself for. Here is where we are reminded of our need of Him and our need of one another.
However, there does come a time when professional help is needed and no-one need carry their hidden pain alone, when help is simply a phone call away.