Men ages 25-54 one of the most at-risk groups for suicide
Posted: 09/22/2012 08:34:17 AM MDT
STERLING -- From 2000 to 2010, approximately 43 men between the ages of 25 and 54 died by suicide in Logan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Morgan, Yuma, Washington, Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties. Of those 43 men, 11 were Logan County residents.
With September being National Suicide Prevention Month, it's the perfect time to get men thinking about their mental health, which is what Rural Solutions is trying to do as they spread the word about Colorado's groundbreaking new approach to suicide prevention and other men's mental health issues: Man Therapy.
Man Therapy reshapes the conversation, using humor to cut through stigma and tackle issues like depression, divorce and even suicidal thoughts head on, "the way a man would do it."
The campaign is the result of a unique partnership between Cactus, a Denver-based advertising agency, the Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, a Colorado suicide prevention nonprofit organization.
"It's important to reach a group that's difficult to get to," said Maranda Miller, program coordinator at Rural Solutions. "We want to reach out to men who maybe otherwise wouldn't get help."
Specifically, they want to reach "double jeopardy" men, who are at a high risk and are not willing to get help. Miller points out it can be difficult to get men to seek help because they don't want to be seen as weak.
"Colorado currently has the sixth highest suicide rate in the nation," notes Jarrod Hindman, director of Colorado's Office of Suicide Prevention. "Men between the ages of 25 and 54 represent a significant portion of suicide deaths in the state, and the numbers are on the rise. It is clear that we have to do something to target this difficult to reach audience."
Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in Colorado for all ages and the second leading cause for those ages 10-24. In 2010, Colorado had approximately 867 suicide deaths, compared to 67 HIV deaths, 171 homicides, 480 motor vehicle deaths, 549 influenza and pneumonia deaths and 721 diabetes deaths.
"Those are the suicides we know about -- sometimes we don't know if a death might have been a suicide," Miller said.
Middle-age men, ages 25-54, are one of the most at-risk groups, along with teenagers and the elderly, and Miller points out that when they attempt suicide, men often pick lethal weapons. That means their first attempt is usually their last.
The centerpiece of the campaign is the mantherapy.org website, where men and their loved ones will find they have a virtual appointment with Dr. Rich Mahogany, whom Miller describes as a cross between Ron Burgundy, from the movie "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and Dr. Phil.
"He's a man's man who is dedicated to cutting through the denial with a fresh approach using his rapier wit, odd sense of humor, no bull-- approach and practical advice for men," said Joe Conrad, Cactus founder and strategic director.
Dr. Mahogany greets visitors, makes them feel at ease and then provides an overview of what they will find and explore during their visit.
From there, visitors can navigate through Dr. Mahogany's office where they can find useful information about men's mental health, including a guy's guide to Gentlemental Health. Men can choose to take an 18-question quiz to evaluate their own mental health status. They can also access resources and explore a wide range of choices from do-it-yourself tips to professional therapist referrals.
Additional resources include links to local support groups as well as a national suicide crisis line that is ever present on the site.
The purpose of the Man Therapy campaign is to provide men approaching crisis, and their loved ones, a place to go and learn more about men's mental health, examine their own and consider a wide array of actions that will put them on the path to treatment and recovery. The message is that all men should be aware of their mental health, treat it like they would a broken leg and strive to get better.
Those who designed the campaign mixed humor with suicide prevention, which Miller said was risky to do, but she points out, "it's been fairly well received." The average time on the website is six minutes, which is significant."
"Some people might be surprised by it," Miller said, adding that the materials may be offensive to some people but the creators are tapping into things that men respond to.
Initial funding for the project was provided through a grant from The Anschutz Foundation to help develop the campaign. Promotional partners include Kroenke Sports Charities and their teams including the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids and Colorado Mammoth. Media promotional partners include Altitude Sports and Entertainment, Comcast and Charter Media.
In addition to the website, the integrated communications campaign also includes a 30-second TV PSA, three viral videos, social media promotions, outdoor boards and outreach materials including posters, coasters and Dr. Mahogany's business card for partners, like Rural Solutions, who will distribute materials throughout Colorado.
"It's a much more proactive approach, but we believe it's going to work," Miller said.
Along with getting more men to take care of their mental health, she also wants to train more men in suicide prevention. Miller will be offering one-hour trainings to men and employers of men, because mental illness does reduce productivity at work. Those interested in participating in the trainings can contact her at (970) 526-3616.
If you or someone you know is in crisis call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Callie Jones: (970) 526-9286; firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @CJones _JA on Twitter.Copyright 2012 Journal Advocate. All rights reserved.