The Harsh Reason So Many People Die Of Suicide

Why institutions of all sorts need to do more to educate and prevent suicide.

depressed woman HappyTime19 / Shutterstock

When it comes to issues surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation, addiction, alcoholism, and diseases of all kinds, we have made a lot of overdue progress. But when it comes to suicide, we are still in the Stone Age in terms of overcoming stigma and actually trying to treat the disease which causes so many deaths. We shake our heads and say trite things like "what a pity". 

A recent lawsit at Yale University over the treatment of students who admit to having a mental illness. The Yale policy of immediately and cruelly throwing any student who admitted being suicidal out of Yale caused at-risk students who were suicidal to fear retribution for admitting the dire situation they were in.  


They had worked their whole life to get into Yale, so asking for mental support likely feels as if they have to face not just being honest about something incredibly hard, but potentially ruining their lives at the same time.

As a society we need to break the stigma of being suicidal so we can save young people from the disease of mental health that kills way too many at an increasing rate.  Not make young people feel that they will be profoundly punished for coming forward 

This case brings to a head what can be increasingly clear: We just can’t deal with the truth when it comes to the mental health epidemic ravaging our young people — and particularly acute among adult men. 


I was highly suicidal five years ago and was hospitalized twice. I know what's missing.

But I am one of the lucky ones. I survived. I got better. So many don’t, and one of the main reasons is that we don't offer the type of support people need.

RELATED: No Shame: What You Need To Know About People With Mental Illness

Mental health awareness should be an institutional responsibility 

What do our high schools, colleges and even employers owe those impacted? Acknowledgment would be a good place to start. Acknowledge the scale of the problem instead of hiding it and wishing it away. 


And education. A lot can be done to break the stigma and provide early intervention if these institutions made mental health literacy a mandatory part of doing business.  

How about peer support groups to keep track of individual students or employees? One-on-one peer interactions can be problematic but in the context of a group with health professionals available as a resource, sharing the stress and early signs of mental health can be beneficial to everyone involved.  

RELATED: Mental Illness Isn't 'Cute' Or 'Quirky' — It's My Life

A word on gender and suicide

Suicide disproportionately impacts men and increases with age. Men start out twice as likely to commit suicide. And by 65 men are 18 times more likely to commit suicide. There is a simple cause: lack of connection. Isolation is literally killing our men.


I would argue that these mental health support groups should generally be single-sex. They do not have to be in person. They could be done using asynchronous video platforms like Marco Polo. Everybody had to check in once a day with their group. If they want they can provide feedback or support to others. If peers in a group get worried about any individual they can alert the mental health professional.

The stated reason high schools, colleges, and employers should tell their students and employees they are mandating such groups is because of the accelerating threat to their safety as a result of the disease of mental health.  

Universities like Yale, high schools and even employers can do so much to educate, prevent and support students and employees rather than ending up in court over poor treatment of suicidal human beings. Let’s get over the stigma and do something about this! It’s not "too bad" — it’s an epidemic.

RELATED: What It's Like Losing A Loved One To Suicide


To find help for yourself or someone else, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline can be reached by dialing 988.

Tom Matlack is on a mission to help men. His weekly speakers series and writing on Substack help men connect with one another and their own emotional well-being. He adores his wife of 20 years and his three children.