Men’s Health West: Alex Costa, Regional Operations Manager

To recognise Men’s Health Week, Alex Costa, Regional Operations Manager, has written the following blog discussing the importance of supporting someone with mental health issues and how to deal with suicide – the biggest killer in men under the age of 45. 

Having worked in health and social care management for over 10 years I have had the privilege of meeting a number of different people in many different parts of the country from different backgrounds and age groups.

Recently I was contacted by someone I used to work with, in fact they worked for the first ever team that I managed.

They told me that a gentleman that we used to work with had taken his own life a few days before she had made contact with me. This man lead a team who supported a man who, as a result of his own suicide attempt, relied on mechanical ventilation and his support team to eat, move and breath.

Two things struck me about this news, the first being the devastating news, we all asked one another and ourselves why?

This man was always laughing and joking, making things okay for others.

He travelled in from the Midlands to the South each week so that he could support someone in need.

The second was recalling the gentleman that we supported together stating that he was actually happier following his attempted suicide as he was no longer in the world/situation that had made him feel that not being here anymore was his only option and better than what he was living.

It also meant that he had kind and caring people around him.

We will now never understand the reasons for my team mate to have taken his own life, but as in the person he was supporting’s case he did.

At the time this course of action was the most definitive choice he could have made and one that he must of felt that he had to.

If both of these gentlemen had felt that they could talk to others then they both may have been able to take another route that didn’t have such a significant impact on them and those around them.

I have no shame in stating that at times the pressures of work, travelling and unwise decisions around maintaining a healthy lifestyle can all build up.

I am just fortunate enough to be from a family culture where we talk and really listen to one another, taking steps no matter what else is happening in life to make small gestures that have a big impact.

In health and social care we spend our time supporting others, but its important to remember to look after ourselves and those around us as well.

Again, we will never know why this man felt that suicide was his only option, his friends and family included.

Equally none of us will know the effects of being supportive to those around us and making time for each other could have for the positive.

Something that we may not even think as a ‘big deal’ may just be what someone needs to feel that they can talk about how they are feeling and give themselves options.

We may not feel that we are able to help others or take responsibility for own health and for the culture and society that we live in, why is it seen as not masculine to talk about how we feel, or to talk to others?

Why do we not see each other as equal and just in our general day to day conversations put ourselves out there by being the one to offer support or challenge negative stereotypes, regardless of how others see us?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, but know that by being responsible for the things we do and say then culture can change, stigma can be lifted and we can all help each other to be meet our responsibilities to ourselves.

If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues, please contact our Confidential Advice Line: 0800 030 5182