It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post because of some news I heard recently.
We are all familiar with bullies in middle and high school. We see the news about cyber-bullying and how many teens commit suicide after these kinds of situations go on and on.
I don’t think that bullies are 100% responsible for their victims’ suicides. But – I do believe they play a critical role. I am sure we would all agree that if we could stop bullying, that would make a lot of victims’ lives much happier.
BULLIES DO THINGS LIKE:
– call people awful names
– insult people
– assassinate people’s character, worth and dignity as human beings
– say negative things about them to others
– bash their victims verbally on Facebook or in social media
– try to make their victims look dumb, incompetent or bad in front of others
– send frequent messages to people to devalue them, put them down and ridicule them
– use condescending words, tone of voice and body language to try to humiliate their victims
– try to turn other people against their victims
– act like they are “better than” those they hurt
– try to cause as much emotional pain as possible to others
– show no remorse, in fact, they seem to delight in inflicting as much pain as possible
- We as moms and women want our children – and all children – to feel safe, accepted, loved, respected and precious. We want them to know that God loves them and that He has amazing purpose for them. We want them to know that they are image bearers of God and that their lives are important and sacred – not to be trashed and wasted.
Most of us who are moms would do almost ANYTHING to keep our children from being bullied.
What about our men?
I believe most of us DEEPLY love our boyfriends/fiancés/husbands. You wouldn’t be reading about becoming a more godly woman if you didn’t love your man.
What if we found out that someone was using these same bullying tactics on them?
Take a look at that list about what bullies do to their victims again. Think about how you would feel if someone was mistreating your man in these ways.
Let’s think about how WE are treating our men.
I am ashamed to say it now, but I did some of these things. I didn’t see it at the time. I felt unloved. He was so shut down, I felt justified in how I treated him because of my own pain. I didn’t think he had feelings. He never verbalized that I hurt him – so I thought he was fine. I had no idea my husband was shut down and unplugged because my behavior deeply wounded him. 🙁
If you are using even one of these bullying tactics on your guy, today is the day for this behavior to stop. It is NOT right for us to treat anyone like this!
True – a man who is depressed and feeling hopeless does have some resources and he can go to his doctor, his pastor, godly friends, join support groups, etc. He does have responsibility to find his identity in Christ and he is ultimately responsible for his feelings, his emotional and mental health, for finding help and treatment if he needs it. Yes, ultimately each person must be responsible for himself or herself before God.
But – I also want to see us as women take responsibility for our own behavior. I would like us to stop any hateful, hurtful behavior on our end. I’d like to see us stop screaming, insulting, belittling, berating, publicly humiliating, shaming, manipulating and bashing our men. They seem invincible – but they are not. I’d like to see us stop character assassination, name-calling, cussing out, blessing out and trying to control our men. I’d like to see us build up our men, encourage them, honor them, speak with the same manners and civility that we use with strangers, speak to them with respect, share our desires and feelings in productive ways and conduct ourselves like we are on their team, not like we are their enemies.
I believe this would allow us to create infinitely more peaceful relationships and families. And I believe we would be honoring Christ and we would be the godly women Jesus desires us to be.
It would be a win/win!
- I am not saying that women are responsible or that anyone else is responsible when someone commits suicide.
I do want us to be observant and to be compassionate and not intentionally cause someone else distress. I also want us to be aware of conditions and signs that may push someone over the edge so that maybe we can encourage someone in trouble to get help and so that we may be a source of healing and blessing instead of pain to others who are deeply hurting.
- I pray that we will all desire our brothers in Christ to feel safe, accepted, respected, loved and precious. I pray that we will want them to know that God loves them and that He has amazing purposes for them. I pray that we will want them to know that they are image bearers of God and that their lives are important and sacred – not to be trashed and wasted. They are sons of God if they are believers. If they are not believers, Christ still died for them and desires them to come to Him and become sons of God.
I pray that men will see in the way we treat them that they are valuable and greatly treasured by us and by God. Let’s think about how God might desire us to treat His sons, whom He dearly loves. And let’s remember that Jesus counts the way we treat others as if we are doing and saying those things to Him.
SOME RISK FACTORS FOR DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE IN MEN THAT I BELIEVE EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
I don’t know if you have looked at national suicide statistics recently. It is a most unpleasant topic, to be sure. I am going to list a few suicide risk factors that men may have that might surprise us. (These are risk factors for both depression and for suicide. Not everyone who experiences these issues will be depressed and not everyone who experiences these situations is at risk for suicide – but some men are. I think it is worth a minute or two of our time to really think about these issues.):
- unemployment – facing unemployment is more difficult for many men than facing terminal cancer. (Sadly, I cannot remember for sure which book this is from. I will add the name of the book when I can think of it! It is from one of my favorite marriage books.) Men tend to find a huge part of their identity in their careers and ability to provide financially. Unemployment is often a time of serious depression for men. They are especially spiritually/mentally/emotionally fragile during this kind of stress. They need our support, faith, understanding, love and respect more than ever in these kinds of situations!
- relationship tension – If he believes his opinions, desires, feelings and ideas don’t matter or aren’t important to his girlfriend/fiancé, that is demoralizing. If he tries to fulfill his God-given role as leader (I Corinthians 11:3), but she demands her own way – it is a lose/lose situation for a man. He may allow her to do as she wishes to try to keep the peace, even if he doesn’t agree with her at all. Butt he knows he is not fulfilling his role as the leader. He knows he can’t force her to follow him. Even the best leader on the planet has to have willing followers. If he desires to please his woman but she is impossible to please and is never happy with him, that is extremely depressing for many men. If all he sees from her is contempt for who he is, that she thinks of him as a failure, that she looks down on him and that she doesn’t respect him – that is a very heavy, lonely, excruciating burden to bear for most men. In marriage, if he longs for physical intimacy with his wife, but she often refuses him – that can be another source of excruciating pain for many men.
- separation and divorce – divorced men are four times as likely as married men to commit suicide. They have often lost most of their income, their children, their home, usually their friends, many times their church, their wives… and they often have very few people they can go to for emotional/spiritual support. Men do not like to be “failures.” “Failing” at marriage can be more painful to many men than any other pain they ever experience in their lifetime. Marriage is supposed to last “till death do us part.” When we divorce, it is like tearing out half of our souls. The damage can be incalculable.
- not having a relationship – single men have their own difficult pain to bear – feeling like a failure as a man because they are not married, or because the woman they are interested in rejects them. This can be an extremely intense pain for many men. Of course, being single does not mean someone is a failure in God’s eyes. How I pray we can see through God’s eyes!
These are not remotely all of the risk factors that could trigger a man to consider suicide. Some other things that increase risk factors are depression, substance abuse, isolation, family history of suicide, personal history of suicide attempts and having access to a gun. This is not a comprehensive study of depression in men or all the reasons why men commit suicide. But this is, I hope, a wake up call, to us as women.
SOME OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS
- Men often have different symptoms of depression than women do: (From WebMD – Common symptoms of depression include loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and apathy. In women, depression may be more likely to cause feelings of sadness and worthlessness. Depression in men, on the other hand, may be more likely to cause them to be irritable, aggressive, or hostile.)
- If anyone talks about wanting to die, wanting to kill himself/herself, wanting to hurt others, wanting to end it all – please take him seriously and try to get help!
- Men can be extremely depressed and not talk about it. This makes it easy for some women not to realize the seriousness of the problem before it is too late.
- If a man – especially your man – says that he feels hopeless, disrespected, unimportant or like he doesn’t matter to you – please take his feelings seriously!
- If a man has multiple risk factors going on at once – he is at greater risk for depression and possibly suicidal thoughts. Be sensitive to the strain that is on him – be his partner and teammate and helper to work through the issues together instead of turning on him.
- When men are stressed because of relationship conflict/separation/divorce, they are also more likely to have heart problems, high blood pressure and physical health issues than women are.
I am aware of husbands who have contemplated or even followed through on suicide attempts because they felt so disrespected and unappreciated by their wives. For some of these wives – it was a total shock. I don’t want this to happen in any relationship, EVER!
Men tend to measure their success as men by the happiness of their girlfriend/fiance/wife.
I am not saying they SHOULD measure their success as men by our happiness. But they often do.
- I wish they (and everyone) would measure their success as men by seeking to please Christ alone and seeking His approval alone.
I know men seem SO BIG and tough. They ARE on the outside.
But men have tender hearts. They have emotions and feelings, too! They may not verbalize them like we do – I pray we will be a safe place for them to be able to verbalize their pain. They hurt and hurt deeply when we disrespect them, treat them with contempt, laugh at them, bash them in public, make fun of them in front of others, undermine them as fathers, minimize their concerns and ideas, belittle them and use sarcasm to cut them down.
I don’t want to see ANYONE attempt suicide or continue on feeling hopeless when there is every reason for hope in Christ and there is HELP available medically, spiritually and emotionally.
No one wants to be disrespected by anyone. We all as people need love and respect from those closest to us – and it would be great if we were respected and appreciated by everyone else, too.
But when a man feels deeply disrespected for who he is by the woman he loves most – that disrespect that he perceives wounds him infinitely more deeply than disrespect from anyone else.
*** If you have SERIOUS issues in your relationship – if one or both of you may be depressed, if there is physical abuse going on, substance abuse, uncontrolled mental health disorders or infidelity – please find appropriate, godly help ASAP!
- Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
- Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
- Family and community support (connectedness)
- Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
- Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
- Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation