A 17 year old boy from my area went up into the woods a couple of days ago with three guns. The search party found his frozen body the next day. He didn't die from exposure but bled to death from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
Several months ago, a neighbor's son, also 17 years old, got into a fight with his older brother, went downstairs and shot himself in the head in his closet.
About a year and a half ago, another neighbor's son got in a fight with his parents and jumped out of the car as it was still in motion. The car wasn't going very fast, but his foot got caught and he was dragged across the pavement. Those few seconds from the time he jumped and his parents were able to stop the car cost him his life.
A man I knew, a really good, nice man, a kind and devoted father, son and husband, hung himself some months back when his business failed.
And a very, very dear friend of mine, despaired by hurts and losses he could no longer stand to bear, tried to kill himself recently.
Everywhere I look I see the deaths and blood of men.....the tragic and untimely demises of beautiful, precious lives.
Incidentally, I don't live in some poverty stricken area where hopelessness and despair are so thick that they hang palpable in the air. I live in a conservative, religious, small town, middle class America, where all our kids know they can look forward to going to college should they choose, where we still eat dinners as a family at night and we know each and every one of our neighbors and their children by name.
Yet, even here, we can't stop our boys from dying tragic, unnecessary deaths. We can't infuse them with the same hope and self-worth that we've managed to instill in our daughters. Our daughters aren't dying. Our daughters aren't going out into the woods and putting guns to their heads.
No matter how much love and support we give our boys, we can't stand as a barrier and protect them from the constant barrage of negative, anti-male stereotypes. We can't protect their hearts and minds from the pain and disillusionment they're sure to find in a world that simply doesn't care about them any further than as a means to an ends; a way to move forth industry, bodies to send to war to further political causes, or, should they fail to prove constructive, to fill our jails.
From ages 10 to 14, the rate of suicide among boys is twice as high as among girls. From ages 15 to 19, four times as high and from ages 20 to 24, six times as high.
Where are our emergency measures to combat this crisis? Where are the commissions, the funding, the programs and the public concern?
William S. Pollack, the director of the Centers for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School has noted, "There’s no doubt that in relation to suicide, boys and young men are in a crisis," said Pollack. "And almost nothing has been done to remediate it from the gender perspective."
So while we spend millions on programs empowering and furthering the interests of women and girls, hardly a finger has been raised or a dime spent to help boys and men that are in crisis. Instead, we devote our time and resources to telling boys that they are all potential abusers, rapists and murderers......frightening, violent things that women and children need to be protected from.
In 2005, in the U.S., 25,907 men killed themselves. For perspective, that is roughly 21 times the number of women who were killed by intimate partners in the U.S. in the same year.
Because of the 1200 or so women who are killed by their partners each year, we have massive campaigns addressing violence against women.
What do we have to address the 25,907 lives of men that were ended needlessly? Again I ask, where are the commissions, the funding, the programs and the public concern?
Why do we stand idly by while our boys and men flounder in emotional pain, despair and hopelessness?
Life is precious and I am heartbroken and angry for the loss of these lives. I am angry that nothing has been done to address this crisis. I am angry for the growing number of lives that will be lost because they won't be deemed important enough to do anything about.
Why don't we do anything?
Because to do something would mean admitting we've been wrong. It would mean taking a long, painfully honest look at the hatred and disdain that we have so willingly and thoughtlessly infused into our society. It would mean addressing the horrible, destructive neglect and damage that has been wrought upon boys, men, fathers and husbands.....apparently, it's simply easier just to look away.
This time of the year can be especially hard for men who are alone; who have been alienated from the lives of their families and children. We need to remember the worth and value of the lives of men; to remember the little boys and young men who need nurturing, care, kindness and understanding; to remember that the lives of these men and boys are invaluable and irreplacable, Remember how important it is to show that they matter....especially in a world that doesn't.
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