Content warning: This post and the film it references discuss suicide.
For my final blog post I have chosen a short film titled “Desiderium” directed by Maeve O’Haire. Before watching the film and reading this post further, I would like to mention that it may be triggering for certain people as suicide is the main theme.
Produced in 2019, this film depicts life after losing a loved one to suicide. Being such a taboo subject, one that often makes people uncomfortable, I feel it is important now more than ever that the topic becomes a staple when discussing mental health and mental well-being. I knew that in this final blog post I wanted my piece to include the idea of mental wellness, but specifically that of men’s. Suicide is the leading cause of death for youth in Canada. In 2019 over 4,000 people lost their lives to suicide, 75% being males (“Suicide in Canada”, 2020). This accounts to approximately 50 men dying each week (Whitley, 2021). With men having a rate of suicide three times higher than women, many elements of society and culture are to be questioned. The most obvious one seems to be the stereotype in which men are to be closed off in terms of showing any signs of vulnerability. This deadly notion that men feel they need to abide by in order to appear “manly” hinders many from admitting they need help.
Films such as this are so important in not only showcasing the grief and sadness that accompanies losing someone to suicide, but the guilt that is felt by loved ones. It is very common for people to feel burdened by thoughts such as “Why didn’t I see the signs?” or “I could have stopped them if I listened more closely”. I appreciated that this film highlighted certain signs that men provide indirectly implying they are in need of help. It is also important to mention that this film also aids in breaking the stigma attached to men in need of therapy, medication, etc. as the main character says in her video that she would not have thought he was weak if he had expressed his feelings.
It should be mentioned that in recent times activisms such as Men’s Mental Health Day have grabbed a lot of attention on social media. This has greatly impacted modernistic ways of approaching the taboo subject while signalling that asking for help does not in fact make men appear weak or less than.
I have been personally affected by suicide by two male friends in my life. I am happy to say they are now doing much better after receiving proper treatment and medication. When I first learned of their attempts, I was sickened with guilt and was horrified that I had not ever picked up on signs of distress. Confused by my reactions, I have learned in recent years that feelings of guilt, anger, and blame are very normal for those affected by suicide and is not a sign of selfishness, nor is it any depiction of having a god complex. Due to a lot of men notoriously bottling up emotions, it is easy to understand why they would hide such feelings in order to appear strong and unaffected. Unfortunately this is the mindset that ultimately leads to suicidal ideation and ultimately deaths.
Though a very triggering topic of discussion for myself and many others, I have learned in my own life that the more it is discussed, the more available and comfortable both men and women will become in opening up. It is vital that everyone keeps conversations open with male friends and family members and encourage them to reach out if they feel they are struggling.
Link to video: https://artwithimpact.org/film/desiderium/
Desiderium. (2019). Art With Impact. https://artwithimpact.org/film/desiderium/.
Government du Canada. (2020, March 4). Government of Canada. Suicide in Canada: Key Statistics. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/suicide-canada-key-statistics-infographic.html.
Whitley, R. (2021, January 28). Mental health issues faced by an alarming number of men should be made a focus of national public policy | CBC News. Alarming numbers around men's mental health indicate need for national response. https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/opinion-men-mental-health-1.5871935.