Have you cried in the last week?
Men tell when they last cried
The suicide rate among young people across Europe has been worryingly high for years. In 2019, 1,127 people between the ages of 15 and 35 committed suicide in Germany. In the Netherlands, a recent study found that suicide is the number one killer of people between the ages of 10 and 30.
What is also clear from the many statistics: men take their own lives much more often than women. Several reasons are given for this - for example, that men are more likely to make drastic decisions. Here, however, a social aspect also comes into play: Men find it more difficult to talk openly about their problems, to show feelings and to seek help. Studies have shown that emotional support from friends and family is one of the best suicide prevention for men.
To better understand how young men deal with their feelings, we asked passers-by on the street: When was the last time you showed emotions and cried?
Ash (28), Ben (28), Abdullah (28) and Daniel (28)
These are Ash, Ben, Abdullah and Daniel
VICE: When was the last time you cried?
Ash: Probably when my grandpa died about a year and a half ago. He was 75 and lived a long way away, but we got along very well. He had an incurable malignant tumor and it wasn't nice to see him suffer like that.
Daniel: I cried when my dog died. So not right away, but the next day everything broke out of me.
Ben: When my daughter was born. But those were tears of joy.
When you cry, do you make it aware?
Ash: No, I don't think about it. I am rarely in a situation in which this is necessary. Women cry for a variety of reasons, men especially when drastic things happen.
Don't you cry when you feel sad?
Ash: I don't feel down often. And if it does, I don't cry because of it. I eat fast food or play video games. I generally try to always think positively. But if I have any problems, I would rather talk to my friends about it than to my family.
Are there tendencies in our society that prevent men from showing emotions?
Abdullah: Men are too proud to show their emotions. It's just like that. But that should definitely change.
What has to happen
Abdullah: I think it just takes a little time. Things are already changing a little, you just have to take a look at the LGBTQ community. So much has improved compared to when we were born. So when the next generation is our age, men will naturally cry, communicate properly, and hold hands.
Tijmen (18) and Daan (18)
That's Tijmen and Daan
When was the last time you cried?
Tijmen: A good two weeks ago. We got a call from my school saying I am not allowed to graduate. We already had a certain premonition because there was a lot of material to learn and I just couldn't keep up. But from the call we definitely knew it was over. Then the tears came to me. All my efforts and my father's hard-earned money were ruined.
Daan: I talked to my mother a few weeks ago. A normal conversation, actually, but I also told her that I had the feeling that she was treating me differently than my brother and sister. We managed to get the whole thing out of the world, but the deeper the conversation got, the more emotions arose. And then at some point I also had a tear in my eye. At that moment my mother was very happy that I finally showed my feelings.
Do you feel safe enough with your friends to talk to them about your feelings?
Tijmen: Yes, but that rarely happens anyway. When you're out with friends, you want to have fun and not think about unsightly things. You can address problems, but afterwards they quickly say: "OK, let's wash that away with alcohol."
Then who are you crying out to?
Daan: With myself. Or with my girlfriend, but that doesn't happen very often. I prefer to hide my emotions.
Do you have a safe space where you can talk about stressful thoughts and feelings?
Daan: No. So maybe when I'm over the feeling, but not in the actual moment. I don't want to bother my environment with my problems. I want to solve it myself and not make myself dependent on other people.
This is jeremy
When was the last time you cried?
Jeremy: Two years ago. I'm away from Singapore to study in Melbourne. I had to leave my family behind. As we said goodbye at the airport, I felt tears welling up. I didn't really cry until I was sitting alone at the gate.
Do you have the feeling that this is what is expected of you?
Maybe that's part of the Asian culture, but in my family it is not normal to show emotions in front of parents. I know a lot of my friends pull away when they want to cry. I also withdraw when I am sad, because this way I can better control my emotions. Or I'm talking to someone I trust.
Why do you act like that?
I've never seen my father cry. Not even at funerals. Maybe that's why.
How do you think the next generation will do?
I believe that we are becoming more and more accepting of vulnerability. Perhaps the next generation will then be more open to men crying more. But we're not quite that far yet. Some of my friends would rather confide in a stranger in a coffee shop or get help online than talk to friends or relatives. They want a safe space where no one will condemn them directly.
This is Ajay
When was the last time you cried?
Ajay: About six months ago. I visited my father in New York, he lives there with my 18 year old sister. At the time, we had some complicated family problems. When I had to go home, I found it very difficult to leave my sister behind. I felt guilty about being her older brother and not being able to take care of her when she is so far away.
Do you feel like you can always cry when you need to?
Yes, but in the presence of my family I hold back the tears anyway. For example, when I flew back from New York and we stood together in front of the check-in counter, it was only a matter of time before someone cried. As an older brother, I didn't want to be the first to cry because everyone else would start crying too.
That is not easy…
Yes, but I'm just the older brother. I don't want to be the one crying the eyes out of my head. I chose this role because I want to protect my sister.
Do you think men who cry are stigmatized?
Naturally. But I also think that will change. The fact that so many men commit suicide is a big problem. If men are more open about their emotions, it may help combat this problem.
Should there be more Safe Spaces in which you can openly express your feelings?
In any case. But somehow everyone has their own safe spaces. For example, when I am in the car with my friends and drive somewhere, I can better tell them about something that bothers me. Men have no problem getting emotional in front of the people they trust. Still, you don't want to be the type who always howls. If we as a society want to do something about this stigma in crying men, we have to show people why this is so important. And we have to teach little boys how to properly deal with their own feelings.
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