A few years ago, a man in my I-Group decided to check out of the group – he had been divorced, had a great new relationship, kids from his former marriage, and life was good. Except for the fact that the brother had a history of depression, there was nothing all that remarkable here.
About six months later, the man committed suicide.
When something like this happens, it’s natural to wonder whether there was something I or the group could have done, and I concluded that we might have probed with the man to see what other support he had in his life to replace the support he’d been getting from MKP and our I-Group.
Thursday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I’m sharing this not to scare you or trigger you, but because as of the 2013 statistics, the highest risk group for suicide is white, educated men between the ages of 45 and 60 and 70 to 79% of completed suicides are men. This profile fits the majority of men in MKP, and it’s statistically likely that there are men sitting in I-Groups who are at risk for suicide.
We tell men very clearly that MKP and anything associated with it are NOT professional mental health care or a substitute for it, and I-Group isn’t either. What we provide Is peer support, and research has shown that peer support is a highly effective tool for increasing mental health, decreasing depression, and reducing the risk of suicide. So what can we do to support our brothers?
Know the warning signs and symptoms of suicidal risk:
- Expressions of hopelessness (“what’s the use,” “maybe it’s not worth it,” “no one can help”)
- Depression (including poor or irregular sleep patterns, low energy, withdrawing from participation)
- Giving away prized possessions
- Talking about suicide
- Securing lethal means
- Know what to do if you see signs and symptoms:
- DON’T process the risk as part of the I Group
- Ask him if he’s willing to let the group support him in getting help
- Follow the QPR process: Question, Persuade, Refer. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions – is he thinking about hurting himself, does he have a plan, does he have a date/time in mind? Persuade him to hold off – delay his action, make a no-harm agreement with the group, have someone with him until he obtains support.
- As part of your I Group materials, know what resources are available locally and also know about the Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1.800.273.8255, a 24/7 facility. For more information see www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
- Be aware that MKP has a Mental Health Resource Team (MHRT) – reach out for support and resources before you need it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Take QPR training at www.qprinstitute.com
- Have the conversation with your I Group before something happens. Create clear agreements among your I Group such as all the men agreeing with each other that they will not harm themselves.
- Download the free pdf version of the book The Forever Decision at http://www.qprinstitute.com/store, print it out, and have it in your I Group materials to give a man as part of the Persuade part of QPR.
Chances are you and your I-Group will never need these resources. When we have fire extinguishers at NWTA weekends, chances are we won’t need them, but as someone once said, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Should you have a suicide in your community, reach out to the MHRT for support – they will do everything to support you including sending men to your community.
World Suicide Prevention Day (https://www.iasp.info/wspd/) is an opportunity to raise our awareness about suicide and to train ourselves so that, if the unthinkable does happen, we don’t have to ask “is there anything else I could have done?” The check-in round in our I-Groups is an ideal opportunity to listen for the shadow of suicide speaking.
Recently – I had the opportunity to participate in the I-Group Council Monthly Zoom meeting and share some of this information – as well as a slide show. Please feel free to review the slides, and watch the video of the meeting.
DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES AVAILABLE – The ManKind Project USA has put together a number of Social Media Posts and a flyer to support World Suicide Prevention Day. You can access these resources in the ManKind Project USA’s Marketing Downloads.
Incoming Chairman, MKP USA