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Mens Mental Health Month + The Forgotten Grievers

—Content discussed in this blog post may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911—

In the few survivors of suicide sibling support groups I belong to on Facebook, one of the most common phrases seen across all posts refers to the surviving siblings as the forgotten grievers. 

I ran into a friend of my mom’s on the street a few weeks ago while on my regular walk along lakeshore drive. Tears were still in my eyes while my face was swollen from crying. I heard her call my name but I kept my head down, hoping that she would think she was mistaking me for someone else. She came closer to me and repeated my name until I finally looked up at her. “How is your mom doing, honey?” was the first question she asked as I lifted my head. I shrugged, “we are all doing the best we can.” I took notice that throughout the entire conversation, she hadn’t asked once about how my older brother and I were doing. Yes, losing a child is unbearable, and I would never attempt to compare or begin to imagine the grief my mother feels daily. However, the pain siblings feel is nonetheless still incomprehensible until the moment you, yourself, feel that pain. It is just as important for people to check on the siblings who are still surviving as it is to ask about the parents. 

I once saw a quote that resonated deeply with me. The quote goes as follows: “When you lose a parent, you lose your past. When you lose a child, you lose your future. When you lose a sibling, you lose both”.

I lost a parent and a sibling, and I can speak from experience when I say these are two different types of bereavement. It’s clear why these are different; a parent serves a very different role than a sibling does unless your sibling takes the role of a parent in your life- which was my case.

When it comes to grief, there are certain things that people don’t tell you about. You hear the “it comes in waves” analogy- which is true. There are days where I am drowning, barely able to make it to the surface for gasps of air. Then there are days when the sea is calmer, and I am able to float with the help of those around me. And then there are rip currents that spin you around and pull you back under, and they can come out of no where-they are utterly unpredictable. 

But what they don’t tell you is that you don’t just grieve the person who is gone; you grieve those around you who are shattered and broken, your old life and memories, and your past self. The grief is constant, it just takes different forms which may be lighter than others.

It is essential to understand that grief is not linear. Whether you are reading this because you share this experience or because you know someone who does, I hope this post shows you that you are never alone in your grief. I hope this post encourages you to reach out to the forgotten grievers. 


Men are also the forgotten grievers. Men are expected to constantly “be strong” and suppress their emotions, even while they are grieving. It is often seen as taboo for men to break down and express their strong emotions and lean on others around them for support. As a result, men learn how to mask their pain, suppressing it until they no longer can deal with it. 

There is an ongoing global male mental crisis gap. As mentioned in previous posts, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10-34 year olds globally; and, 75% of those suicides are males. This enormous disparity between males and females is highlighted when delving into mens mental health statistics. For example, according to an article published in Forbes, 40% of men admit that they won’t talk to anyone when in a crisis. These men cite reasons for not wanting to ask for help as embarrassment, fear of being a burden, or simply because they feel they do not have anyone to talk to.

While November is Men’s Mental Health month, I want to emphasize that November is not the only month to talk about the importance of men’s mental health. November is not the only month where men should feel supported when opening up about their mental health. Reach out to the men in your life and remind them that there are many resources and safe spaces for them to come to. It is okay to ask for help, in fact it is encouraged.


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September- Suicide Prevention Month

September is national suicide awareness month, and it is also the month which marks six months without our beloved Alan. I’ve never paid much attention to September; it wasn’t a month of reflection, a month of reaching out to check in on those around me, a month of spreading awareness not until my family became a part of the statistic. Up until the moment when suicide or mental illness touches you personally, it often appears to be a distant concept, one which does not constantly run at the forefront of your mind and thoughts daily. 

Over the course of six months, I have recognized how much of our culture patronizes mental health and suicide. While a majority of our society appears to be profoundly progressive and open-minded, mental health is still extremely taboo.

I remember expressing to a friend that it was difficult for me to go back into social situations since Alan passed because of how sensitive I was and how I felt triggered by comments that alluded to suicide in a joking manner. This individual responded by saying, “you just need to get over it, people are going to make stupid comments and you just have to ignore it.” I remember walking away from that conversation feeling so incredibly alone and silenced with a huge pit in my stomach. I couldn’t understand how someone who has never been impacted by suicide could say such a heartless comment to me in a time of vulnerability. While a part of me understands that I cannot change the thought process of every individual I encounter, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to educate individuals on the importance of mindfulness and how words and jokes can directly affect someone who might be going through a traumatic event in their life.  

Coming from someone who has experienced not one but two suicides in my immediate family, I can confidently say that there is never an appropriate time or place to make light on mental illness. It isn’t funny, and quite frankly, it makes the individual look like a highly ignorant, unempathetic, and unintellectual person. But here’s the thing, changing the tone we use when talking about mental illness and suicide will not solve the problem, but it certainly is a start that will make a grave impact on our society. 

Image courtesy of @realdepressionproject 

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there is an average of 130 suicides per day, and men are 3.63x as likely to die by suicide than women. Part of the reason why so many individuals, particularly men, feel uncomfortable or ashamed to reach out for help when battling any form of mental illness comes from the climate we create around mental illness. This is why months that encourage awareness, such as September, are crucial to raise awareness for and partake in. And raising awareness does not have to solely be in the form of posting on social media; there are so many more ways to get involved. Some of them can be uncomfortable at first, like educating someone on the detrimental impact one comment could make on someone when in a social scenario, or checking in on your friends and coworkers, or having a family discussion on the importance of maintaining good mental health. 

September is only halfway over, and I encourage you to do at least one action which will help raise awareness for suicide prevention. 

One last comment that I want to include is that mental illness can present itself in a wide variety of forms. Just because someone doesn’t appear “depressed” or “sad” does not reflect the struggle they might be battling inside. Check on the people who might still seem to be “okay.” Be kind to yourself and others. 

If you have any gentile comments or questions, please leave them in the comment section below. 


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ASK For Help Foundation – In loving memory of Alan Stephen Katamanin

Mental health, particularly suicide, is incredibly stigmatized in all communities, some more than others. One of our goals through this foundation is to remove some of this stigma and help make talking openly about and seeking help for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal ideations less taboo.

“Never compound suffering by blaming the sufferer” -Doctor Jeff

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

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