According to the Centre for Suicide Prevention (CSP), men between the ages of 40 to 65 years of age are dying by suicide at alarming rates and are three times more likely to die by suicide than women.
"One reason for why men are at risk is because oftentimes, we are expected to be stoic; we're expected to endure pain or any hardships, without really showing our feelings or complaining," said Akash Asif, the External Relations Director for the Centre for Suicide Prevention. "Oftentimes, we're told that weakness will diminish our manhood"
To combat this, the CSP is focusing on men’s suicide prevention in June with Buddy Up Month. This year's focus is centred on the tagline: ‘How are you really doing?’.
"We had conversations, conversations with men from various backgrounds. During our initial conversations, we identified a few important learnings. First, men recognize there is an issue and want to be part of the solution. Secondly, although guys may not be willing to ask for help for themselves, we are very willing to provide support for our buddies and keep them safe. So we decided to leverage this and in 2020, we launched Buddy Up to promote authentic conversations among men and their buddies."
Men can sign up and become a champion for others and this year there are already over 600 champions that have already signed up for the free campaign, including the Airdrie dads group, which has been participating in the program for several years. Mike Principalli, an Airdrie dad who spearheaded the decision for Airdrie dads to become part of the campaign said it seemed like a natural fit for the group.
"The big thing is listening and just being there to support them and make sure that they understand that it's not unusual for what they're going through," he said. "It's about pointing them in the right direction of what resources are out there because I think there are a lot of good resources and it's okay to ask for help on something like this."
Principalli said that although there still is a stigma of men talking about their mental health struggles, he acknowledged that programs like the Buddy Up Campaign are a great way to dispel that very stigma.
"Just being able to ask a buddy, how he's actually doing and them being aware that it's okay not to be okay. [Suicide] affects everyone; whatever industry you're in, either if you're in the business class, or trades or, or whatnot. It affects everyone," he said.
Challenge activities during the Buddy Up campaign encourage people to connect with friends by going for coffee, getting outdoors, or doing a DIY project.
"Checking on your buddies to make sure that they're doing well and are in a good spot and give them an ear to listen to what they're going through; stick to your role as being a friend and make sure that they know you are there," Principalli said.
In 2019, Statistics Canada reported that of the country's 4,012 suicides, 3,058 were by men and 1,169 (the highest number) were by men between ages 45 and 64.
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