TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains discussion of suicide.
Suicide is by no means an easy subject to write about, but as part of September’s Suicide Prevention month, it’s an important one to discuss.
It’s a major public health problem with far-reaching social, emotional and economic consequences and it’s estimated that there are currently more than 700 000 suicides per year worldwide. In the UK, it’s the leading killer of men under 50.
Disclaimer: the information shared on this website and blog is intended for general knowledge purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for seeking advice from qualified mental health professionals. If you’re dealing with mental health issues, I strongly recommend reaching out to a qualified medical professional. They can provide tailored guidance based on your specific circumstances and needs.
Given that this is a blog about Real Estate, you may be wondering why I’m choosing to talk about such a subject – and sadly, I have an easy answer. Two of my relatives took their own lives. They’d been putting on brave faces to conceal the stress they were under, and no-one had any idea that they’d been suffering.
Today, we’re starting to see people buckle under a variety of stresses: the cost-of-living crisis, spiralling interest rates and a world that’s quite literally on fire. Whilst there’s less stigma surrounding mental health discussions, it’s still something that a lot of men are unwilling to talk about. So how can we open up those conversations?
Boys don’t cry
I think the first, and most important, thing to address, is the idea that to ask for help shows weakness.
It’s not an unreasonable belief, in fairness. There’s a definite social stereotyping that suggests men always have to be stoic, strong, and in control – however I’d argue that there’s more strength in showing vulnerability.
We all need help sometimes – no one succeeds alone, after all! One of the first things I do, when faced with a problem (whether it’s personal or professional), is to think about who in my network is best placed to help me solve it. Think about it this way – if you needed to fix your car, you’d get a mechanic involved. Find the person with the right skills and ask them for help.
The elephant in the room
Of course, in order to ask for help, first you need to acknowledge there’s a problem in the first place – which can of course dent the ego a little. But there’s really no shame in admitting that things aren’t going well. Whilst it’s tempting to exist in an Instagram-friendly world where everything’s rosy, you have to face up to reality sooner or later.
Back in the mid-noughties I was riding very high on a wave of successful property deals, before everything fell down around me: as I’ve talked about before, the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked a chain of events that saw me lose everything. The stress of it all nearly broke me, and I’m a resilient man – I think if I’d tried to style it all out as if nothing was wrong, it would have completely tipped me over. One of the reasons I started my podcast and coaching programme is because I wanted to help people understand and avoid the mistakes that I made, that caused all the financial strains I experienced. In property, the decisions that lead to disastrous outcomes can often be made years before the drama starts to unfold.
As I mentioned before, putting on a brave face is the worst thing you can do. You have to remember that no matter how big you think a problem is, it’s so much bigger in your head, and no-one is going to judge you if something has gone wrong. They’ll be more worried about you than the state of your business, I guarantee it.
Now, I realise it’s easy for me to say all of this – it’s another thing altogether to actually know what to say, who to say it to, and when to say it.
If you don’t feel like you can talk to friends or family, then there are other resources out there that can help – I’ll share details at the end of this post. However, I’d really recommend taking the plunge and opening up to the people around you – the chances are that they’ll already be very aware that things aren’t going well for you.
The key is to open up honestly about the situation, without fear of judgement, in a way that suits you best – whether that’s asking someone directly for help, or just asking them to listen while you talk.
Something I read about recently, which I thought was really interesting, was about the physical positions men and women may prefer to take when having difficult conversations.
Whilst women may feel more comfortable talking to someone face to face, where they can read the other persons expressions and body language, men are more likely to open up to someone when they’re side-by-side.
Side-by-side conversations give men a more comfortable space to communicate – it becomes easier to open up about difficult issues without the added pressure of eye contact, which can feel challenging. So sitting next to some one, or even walking next to them, might make it easier for you to talk to someone.
As I said at the beginning of this post – there’s an idea that asking for help means that you’re weak, and that really couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s vital to get out of the mindset that you’re only as successful as your business, or your balance sheet, and if you need it, to seek help.
Remember, there is always help available. If you or someone you know is struggling, the resources below may be helpful.
In the UK:
Samaritans – https://www.samaritans.org/
Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/
Mental Health UK – https://mentalhealth-uk.org/
Samaritans Ireland – https://www.samaritans.org/samaritans-ireland/
Mental Health Ireland – https://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/
Aware – https://www.aware.ie/