Male students look to bright futures
THIRTY male students of five of Jamaica’s high schools have reassured their teachers and representatives of CIBC FirstCaribbean bank that suicide is not in their present or future path.
Speaking frankly at an International Men’s Day forum hosted by the bank at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on November 23, the students spoke emphatically about their resolve to do well in school, further their education to attain the qualifications necessary to achieve their dream jobs, respect girls and women, and love their families. One of the themes for International Men’s Day was ‘Zero Male Suicide’.
The students from Munro College, Dinthill Technical High, Ardenne High, St George’s College, and Kingston College responded positively to Nigel Holness, managing director of the bank, and to guest presenters.
Holness reinforced the role of men in society and the need for boys to respect and honour the roles both men and women play. Noting that annually November 19 is celebrated as International Men’s Day, Holness said that “while it is universally acknowledged that women have a significant role in all spheres of everyday life, including as productive members of society, men are very, very, very important too”.
Men, he said, “can serve as positive role models and though today we all tend to idolise sportsmen, celebrities, or movie stars, it is infinitely better to have a regular man, for instance, a father who is leading a normal, decent life as a good human being, as a role model. That way children will also realise that you do not have to be famous or celebrated on social media to be an example to others. If you are honest, hard-working, and disciplined, you are also a hero.”
Psychologist Verol Billett shared information and facts on suicide, including statistics and gender distribution, noting that men are at least four times more likely to complete suicide than women.
He explored the concept of mental health among men, the concept of adverse childhood experiences and its relationship to later outcomes, ways to take better care of one’s mental health, how to help others, and the need to combat the stigma among men and mental health.
The discussion with the students evolved around the fact that men traditionally are not the most willing to seek help and take care of themselves physically and mentally.
“There is a need to challenge the cultural notions about men and emotions, a need to learn better coping mechanism to handle stress, and a need to make changes in our daily lives to lower the incidence and the perpetuation of trauma in our society,” Billett asserted.