Exhibit tackles men’s suicide

The impact of men’s suicide upon family and friends has been translated into images as part of the University of British Columbia’s photo exhibition Man-Up Against Suicide that will be in Rimbey from today to Monday.

The impact of men’s suicide upon family and friends has been translated into images as part of the University of British Columbia’s photo exhibition Man-Up Against Suicide that will be in Rimbey from Thursday to Monday.

By coincidence, 11 out of the 61 participants who contributed photos to convey how they felt were from Rimbey.

Genevieve Creighton, part of the exhibition team, said photos were therapeutic for some participants as it allowed them externalize their emotions or memories of those who died. Other photos represented ways to prevent suicide.

Creighton said one woman from Rimbey took a photo of a field with a couple of pickup trucks in the distance.

“She said it represented why men’s suicide is higher in rural areas. They go into the industry at a real young age and it kind of teaches them about being tough … and that’s where they learn they can’t talk about things that are bothering them or talk about sadness, or if they are struggling around issues of sexual orientation. They have to be silent about that just because the industry is so masculine,” said Creighton about the photo.

The photo is one of about 25 that will be on display in Rimbey at Beatty Heritage House, at 5002 51st St.

A description of the photo from the participant is superimposed over their photo.

The opening reception for Man-Up Against Suicide will be held today from 5 to 8 p.m. with snacks and refreshments. A panel of speakers will discuss how to reduce the pressures that keep men silent when it comes to depression and suicide.

Man-Up Against Suicide will run until Monday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, professor and director of the psychotherapy program at UBC’s Department of Psychiatry, said the exhibition is all about encouraging people to talk about men’s suicide so men are more likely to open up about their problems and prevent suicides.

He recalled how a report on survivors who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco showed the importance of that discussion.

“Every single one said the moment they leapt, they regretted the act. They didn’t want to die. So that’s a big thing that people need to think about. When we start talking about it, when the media picks it up, it’s not like trying to push people over the edge — it’s like you’re trying to pull people back. In a way, it’s a bit of a lifeline,” said Ogrodniczuk, who grew up in Rimbey.

According to statistics collected by Man-Up Against Suicide, the risk for suicide among men in rural areas increases by 40 per cent or more the further away they were from urban centres. For a community like Rimbey, the suicide mortality rate was 27.3 per 100,000 compared to 19.3 in urban areas.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among men age 25 to 29 and 40 to 44.

Suicide triggers include feelings of sadness associated with loss or grief, financial hardship, relationship issues, loss of a job or social status, worrying about death, lost purpose, work, retirement and depression.

For college-age men, triggers can be isolation from family and friends, financial strain, work and study pressures, poor career prospects, and stresses around body image and gender identity.

Men with depression or suicidal thoughts should disclose their feelings to their general practitioner, psychologist, counsellor, and/or psychiatrist.

Families and friends are encouraged to:

l Be active listeners for men disclosing their feelings.

l Provide simple social support through outings and physical activity at least until they are stabilized by accessing professional help.

l After building up rapport, suggest they access support services through their family doctor, counsellor, social worker, or other health care professional.

l If possible offer to accompany them to the initial mental health appointment and/or set up the appointment on their behalf.

l Report the severity of the depression, suicidal thoughts or self-harm behaviours to his doctor or therapist.

l Provide hope by reassuring him that he can overcome depression by following his health care team’s recommendations.

Man-Up Against Suicide, funded by Movember, first opened in Vancouver in June. For more information on the project, visit www.manupagainstsuicide.ca.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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