It’s no secret, of course, that a great deal of our customers are building trade related males. Neither is it any secret that there is a huge problem with male suicides from this particular sector, in fact it’s been all over the media of late, particularly as it has now become a much greater cause of death than that caused by workplace accidents. It is also something that has touched many of us here at TradeTools, particularly as we have personally known of long standing customers that are no longer with us due to this terrible affliction……..death by loneliness as it has sometimes been very sadly called.
And maybe we should now really be asking ourselves why this tragic cause of death is more common amongst those that all here at TradeTools, & companies similar to us, constantly interact with on a day by day basis?I will therefore attempt to try & offer up a few answers, some of which could be considered a little controversial; but hey the ‘experts’ haven’t exactly been overly forthcoming in solving the mystery of these ever increasing rates of suicide amongst our many building industry mates either!
For a start, trying to be ‘politically correct’ about any of this would be rightly seen as somewhat weak & insincere. The absolute dishonesty & lack of plain speaking surrounding so many important issues these days has resulted in far too many people feeling unable to express their genuine opinions for fear of upsetting some small minority or vocal pressure group. For instance, it’s almost as though being ‘male’ these days, particularly being a white male, carries with it some sort of historical stigma. We are also often reminded that ‘males’ are the aggressors, start wars, cause most of the trouble; I’m sure many of you guys have heard it all before many times over. But let’s never forget that males also stamp out aggression, end wars & halt trouble as well, in fact only a very small percentage of us are responsible for all of the trouble that gets levelled against, a very small percentage of us indeed in fact. And the very people that try & make too many males feel bad about actually being 'male' conveniently, & all too often, overlook all of the many great things that we males have invented, uncovered, created & discovered throughout the long march of history. We also all have a right to be proud of our ancient heritage, we all have incredibly old lineages; mine for instance is a mix of English, Welsh, Irish & Indian, with a fair slice of Neanderthal thrown in for good measure! But, if you were to compress the total history of humanity into just one single 24 hour day, it really is only around 45 minutes ago since our ancestors were part of some small tribe or other, nomadic hunter gatherers, living day by day, no written language, stone & bronze tools, our total world view simply that which we could touch, see or hear. And they would have absolutely no concept at all of the incredible complexity that most of us are forced to live with as a part of being alive today. Quite simply, living in that ancient tribal past is the world that we have evolved to live in, both physically & mentally, in fact the world that we have now created was never the world that any of us we were ever designed for by the obvious process of natural selection.
So, we are all ancient peoples, trying to make sense of this modern & confusing world, the descendants of over 3000 previous generations since we all wandered out of Africa as inquisitive hunter gatherers sometime around 70,000 years ago. And up until just 3000 years ago, or merely 100 generations back, we would have spent every single night spread out around a fire with most other members of our tribe, eating, drinking, storytelling, joking & exaggerating. But, at the same time, we would have been planning, inventing, creating &, most importantly, sharing our innermost thoughts, desires & fears. As a simple percentage, we have therefore been living in modern societies for roughly 4% of our time as modern humans. And this ancient tribal camaraderie is a necessary primeval need that males in particular have partially lost as our world has become more isolated & less tribal. And no amount of TV, golf, speed, risk, showing off, spectator sports or physical workouts will or can ever replace it. These types of distractions are all mainly just human ‘past times’……in that they pass the time…..really nothing more……..hence the appropriate name!
And modern society was never designed to make the vast majority of us happy, in fact current statistics seem to prove just the opposite. What we have all now helped create is a highly complex society whereby those that are handed the privilege of governing us, instead often treat us with contempt. We are now forced to live within this modern 'gilded cage' of rules & regulations, most of which were initially designed to protect the most stupid amongst us, but which now must be applied to us all. We also consistently experience rampant inequality whereby a hard working building tradesman becomes loyal a customer of a large hardware store chain where their CEO can earn an annual salary package that can be a multiple of around 60 times of what his tradesman customer earns. That means that a hardware CEO can earn more in one week than what his tradesman customer will earn in an entire year! Absolutely nobody with any shred of honesty can even begin to justify wage differences that extreme, & this is a very recent phenomenon, something that has only happened over the last 40 years or so. Our hardy tradesman also has to duck & weave around a whole myriad of quite recently introduced workplace rules & regulations, whilst constantly being spied upon by fee hungry lawyers who lie in wait for anyone to make a mistake. Quite simply, we inhabit this modern society that seems to allow, sometimes even encourages, blame, greed, inequality, hypocrisy & unfairness. So why should we be at all surprised when so many of us now seem to be cracking up along the way?
We should also acknowledge the rise of environmentalism, & its continual dire warnings over the last few decades as well. I think most sensible people would readily agree that we humans are having a severely detrimental effect on the environment. If you choose to believe the vast majority of our scientists as well, our western way of life is currently unsustainable & ultimately destructive. Whatever the truth of all of this is, there is no doubt that it does cast a dark cloud over the very way that we experience our world, both on a personal & collective basis. When we are told that we are stripping the earth’s resources at almost twice the rate that they can be replenished, then we are all aware that our lives, & particularly the lives of all that come after us, will be affected in what could well be a harsh & perhaps even brutal way. Deep down, most of us are well aware of these issues, which must obviously have the negative effect of robbing us of just a little bit of that extra positive hope & encouragement needed by everyone for both our personal & collective futures. The collective realisation that our way of living is unsustainable has never happened before in history that we know of.
So, we all now inhabit a highly complex, modern, individualistic society populated by we the people, whilst still carrying with us ancient minds & bodies possessed of strong communal tribal instincts. As well, most males are historically still wired to 'strut their stuff’, providers & protective of families, naturally territorial to the point of being war like, shelter builders, universal fixers, foragers, hunters, fishermen, trappers, innovators & explorers. It is no mystery at all that this is what us males were designed by nature for so as our race would survive in the ancient world; yet the modern world has little need for much of these deeply inherent skills. So instead, most of us live in the same place for years on end, take on debt that requires decades to pay off, get mainly entertained by a series of electronic screens, attend repetitive jobs that we often loathe, whilst suffering all sorts of societal rules & regulations mainly imposed on us by risk averse bureaucrats, law enforcement officers & safety inspectors that we pay handsomely for but rarely ever like or know. With all of this in mind, what could possibly go wrong? In a nutshell…….quite a lot……..as it so often does these days……& with some dire consequences!
As a small aside, I have recently built an old fashioned stone wood burning BBQ in my backyard. When I fire the thing up, it’s just fascinating to watch the men instinctively congregate around it as they see, hear & smell the wood burning; some ancient primeval instinct again at work no doubt. They then stand, shoulder to shoulder as men do, whilst you can feel the camaraderie building, everyone involved, stories flowing freely, laughter & good humour, everybody equal. So much better & so much more inclusive than any TV show or social media event! It is as though we have forgotten in some important ways just how to be with, & be a part of, nature; & that's such a shame if that is the case.
John Howard recently stated the 'bleeding obvious' when he indicated that the home & children were still very much the preserve of women. But I could not believe how much aggravation this simple & basically sensible statement actually caused. Most men would agree that a woman is the very heart of the home, nature rarely ever makes mistakes after all, & this is mirrored throughout nature across just about every other species. And I believe that women in their roles as wives, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters etc, are still mainly closer & more entwined with the concept of the natural human family than us males. I have even heard some women claim that they can “do without” men. That’s a nonsense statement, a bit like saying that the sea doesn’t need the earth, a complete symbiotic impossibility. But what seems to have happened is that the natural role of men in modern society seems to have been discounted, cheapened, somewhat overlooked & almost definitely weakened. In short, we guys have been made to feel ‘less valuable’ as men.Few men could fully disagree with that somewhat depressing statement.....& this leads us into the next area of some concern……& that is depression.
For such a talked about subject, there is so little known or understood by most of us about this very common condition. I am definitely no expert but I am aware that there are evidently 2 main types of depression…….'reactive'…….& 'endogenous'. Reactive depression is that which we all suffer from time to time, when our dog dies, our car breaks down, our partner leaves us, we lose our job, a mate dies, a relation dies, you get the picture. It’s just a necessary part of the grieving process & it generally doesn’t last that long, maybe a few days or weeks, before it slowly lifts & life begins to return to normal. All quite normal & a necessary part of the adjustments needed throughout the course of our everyday lives.Endogenous depression is when it becomes an illness & continues on for months, sometimes years, & is basically a change in the chemical structure of the brain that has the chance of becoming an important & negative part of the person’s character. Endogenous depression can first start off with reactive depression, then becomes a semi-permanent condition, often following a major life incident or serious setback. Endogenous depression is a proper illness that almost always responds to help. Depression can be a terminal disease…… in that people die from it……….all too often by suicide!I won’t spend long on the subject of depression as there are far more worthy people than I who you can contact or talk to about this condition. What I will say though is that it is a very debilitating condition to suffer, but something that is often easily fixed with the right help & counselling, plus there are some excellent prescription drugs available that can quickly get someone back to enjoying life, feeling hopeful, sleeping properly, being good company, basically restoring your innate sense of gratefulness that depression all too often robs people of.And that is also what depression is sometimes described as…….a deep seated overall lack of gratitude!But sometimes, depression is our mind & bodies way of telling us that we have to change things in our life, make a fresh start, escape from a rut, move somewhere new, change what we do. Depression…..’the sand that can eventually create the pearl’ as one smart person I think nailed it!
So, why do we now have so many building trade guys taking their own lives?Well, & taking into account much of what I have just said, we now have a modern mixture of too many guys feeling either isolated, disconnected, alone, of lesser importance, undervalued, overworked, exploited, stuck in a rut, not happy at home, incomplete, bored, unloved, disrespected, angry, of little significance, overlooked……just some of the feelings that wouldn’t happen hardly at all in a tribal environment where every single person has a vitally important & needed role to play. But these days, too many men often return home at night with only themselves as proper company in that they lack genuine companions in whom they can confide & share, jawbone & plan. Whatever anyone else might say, most men know deep down that women do think & act differently than us in that they see many aspects of life in fundamentally different ways & usually respond accordingly. As I have already said, nature rarely ever makes mistakes, & any man or woman that truly believes that a woman can take the place of a man, or vice versa of course, just doesn’t really know that much at all about human nature, regardless of how smug or well qualified they may try & act or sound. Just ask any parent, for instance, who has had both a son & a daughter, they’re the experts after all, if they believe or not that males & females are born for different roles in life? Their answers would be far nearer the mark than listening to some young reactionary who probably thinks that you can also learn to swim by just reading a book on the subject!And we are probably wired up differently for very good reasons, otherwise our race could well have died out long before the last ice age! And those that are currently trying to blur these natural innate differences, for whatever ill-informed reasoning, are obviously forgetting a few simple facts, one being that every 2 months in Australia alone, a full Jumbo jet full of men die due to them taking their own lives! These men are dying of loneliness, marginalised, angry, bitter & without enough reasons left for them to want to continue to live; an absolute national tragedy if ever there was one. Over 20 of those that die weekly reportedly kill themselves mainly due to them being denied access to their own children. That alone is a shocking statistic that our ancient ancestors would not have believed could ever be allowed to even happen.
And I have seen what can happen to a man after he has been expelled from his own home by a wife that no longer feels she wants or needs him. These guys can be extremely angry, almost capable of murder in fact, & I am actually surprised that more lives are not lost due to the deep feelings of rejection & emasculation felt by many men when they are expelled from their immediate families. Of course, some men almost deserve to be left behind, but many men do not, & many of the suicides that we see must be due to these ever increasing relationship break ups & the heartbreak they create. Once again, it is a purely primeval instinct for males to feel isolated & angry when they lose their families, quite simply it would not have happened hardly at all for a solid 96% of our time as modern humans, as the tribe could not have supported any family that lacked a man at its head. That family would simply have starved, as they tragically still do in so many parts of the less developed world today. Of course, many guys ‘self-medicate’ with either drugs or alcohol when they suffer family break down, but all too often this has the effect of making a bad situation even worse, especially alcohol which is usually the drug of choice for many & a known depressant. If you know of any guy who is maybe going through a tough time & chooses to stay home alone & constantly self-medicate, then you are witnessing a problem unfold before your very eyes, & a person that needs help.After all, one jumbo jet full of guys crashing every 2 months is already way too many of us being lost!
I hope this helps in adding a little to the greater understanding of just what is happening out there to the usually tough & hardy guys in our building trade & beyond. As a company, TradeTools is exploring ways to try & help ease this worsening problem, & we will be looking into just what we can do about it into the New Year. But, make no mistake, if you are a guy feeling down, there are plenty of people out there only too happy & willing to help, that’s just a part of being a guy, never forget that!
Life was never meant to be a problem to be solved………it was always meant to be a joy to be lived……….& if you don’t believe that…………then you are not listening to your personal instinctual inherited wisdom…….bequeathed to you by countless thousands of ancient tribal ancestors……… that priceless gift of life & wisdom that we have ALL inherited as a part of just being human.Never forget that they all lived & were placed here for one very important reason……..You!
Thanks for taking an interest.Greg Ford.Director TradeTools Pty Ltd