Content warning: discussion of suicidal thoughts and actions.
Suicide is often a silent killer.
Not only has it quietly become one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., but it's often the hesitation and fear of speaking up and asking for help that makes suicide seem like the only option.
In a way, our silence is killing us. And this is especially true for men.
In a gut-wrenching new PSA from the Movember Foundation, a nonprofit focused on men's health, men read aloud old suicide notes they'd written to loved ones years ago, after they'd decided to kill themselves.
Thankfully, none of them followed through. They decided to speak up instead.
It's a gripping reminder that "suicide notes talk too late" when it comes to accessing care:
As the PSA hints, far more men die from suicide than women.
While suicide rates have surged to 30-year highs across many demographics in the U.S. — with alarming spikes among both middle-aged women and young girls — men are still much more likely to kill themselves overall, according to data from the CDC.
"Globally, the rate of suicide is alarmingly high, particularly in men," as Movember's website points out. "Too many men are 'toughing it out,' keeping their feelings to themselves and struggling in silence."
One particular subgroup of men, however, has been especially affected.
As FiveThirtyEight reported, middle-age white men living in the American West are three times as likely to die from suicide than the national average. Locals in Wyoming — a state where roughly 8 in 10 suicides are men — blame it on the “cowboy-up” mentality: pull yourself up by the bootstraps and carry on.
Call it whatever you want, but the "tough it out" strategy and the "cowboy-up" mentality are exactly the wrong ways to take care of your mental health.
Gender norms hurt both women and men, and nothing exemplifies that better than the discrepancy in suicide rates.
It's no wonder research suggests men are less likely to reach out for help when struggling with depression, substance abuse, or stressful life events.
Men are told time and time again that opening up and showing emotion is a form of weakness, even though it can be the bravest, strongest thing a person can do.
Starting that conversation can save your life.
If you're depressed or having thoughts of suicide, today is the day to get help.
National Suicide Prevention Week is a campaign aimed at curbing the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging folks to access care.
But there really isn't an ideal week to reach out for help. The sooner you speak up, the brighter your future looks.
Need help? You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or learn more at the Movember Foundation's website.