Like stowaways on ships, trains, and planes, people have attempted (and sometimes succeeded!) in mailing themselves as recently as just a few years ago. It’s not easy, nor legal, nor permitted by any major shipping company, but that hasn’t stopped a very special group of people from trying.
Whether to escape slavery or merely the cost of a plane ticket, people have been trying for over a century and a half to package themselves like so many rolls of toilet paper from Amazon.
Last year, in an interview with the New York Times, anthropologist Heidi Larson, founder of the Vaccine Confidence Project, said that efforts to silence people who doubt the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines won’t get us very far.
“If you shut down Facebook tomorrow,” she said, “it’s not going to make this go away. It’ll just move.” Public health solutions, then, would have to come from a different approach. “We don’t have a misinformation problem,” Larson said. “We have a trust problem.”
Male suicide continues to be a significant issue worldwide for which there are a myriad of social risk factors. Amongst these, distressed and/or disrupted (i.e., separation, divorce) intimate partner relationships are known to heighten men’s mental illness and suicide risk. The current qualitative study offers novel insights to the connections between masculinity and mental illness in and after men’s intimate partner relationships. Drawing from in-depth interviews with 47 Canadian and Australian men, three themes were inductively derived: 1) The trouble inside, 2) Breaking up and breaking down, and 3) Finding help. The ‘trouble inside’ results revealed relationship transitions wherein challenges to couple dynamics flowed from diverse life course events (conflict, illness, bereavement, co-parenting). Partnership transgressions (most often infidelity) also featured to heighten men’s mental illness vulnerabilities and threaten the feasibility of the relationship. ‘Breaking up and breaking down’ chronicled participants’ anxiety, depression and suicidality in the aftermath of their relationship ending. Herein, substance use and other maladaptive behaviours were used by men to blunt feelings and/or self-medicate mental illness. These strategies were ineffectual for moving on from blaming partners or grieving the loss of support and social connectedness provided by ex-partners. ‘Finding help’ included men’s eventual self-help, uptake of informal assistance from friends and family, formal professional care services, and the use of facilitated male peer group resources. Norming the use of these diverse help resources were men’s alignments to strength-based asset-building masculine ideals, wherein their help-seeking was bridged to, and reflective of their (albeit latent) commitment to better managing their mental health and future relationships. Highlighting the gendered dimensions of mental illness in men’s intimate partner relationships, the current study also thoughtfully considers content and contexts for the delivery of tailored upstream suicide prevention programs focussed on men building better relationships.