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June 1, 2021 Issues & Insights

Moving beyond the “how are you?” reflex

We’ve given our buddies help with processing cattle, or picked up parts for them because we were in town anyway, but how often do we take the time to ask how they’re really doing?

Men die by suicide at rates three times higher than women.

It’s time to open the doors to difficult conversations. And here’s where we can start.

This month, Buddy Up

This June, the Centre for Suicide Prevention (CSP) is encouraging men to ‘Buddy Up,’ as part of a suicide prevention campaign by men, for men. The campaign aims to encourage men to have real conversations with their friends, and to support them if they’re struggling with thoughts of suicide.

What you can do

The first thing we can all do is learn about suicide prevention. CSP offers a downloadable toolkit that walks through risk factors, warning signs, gender paradox, suicide prevention, and much more.

Next, we can open the doors to difficult conversations, and keep them going.

It’s all too easy to tap the small-talk reflex hammer with a “how are you?” and receive the reflexive response — good. you?” Let’s move beyond that, and take some time and effort to shift to more thoughtful discussion, particularly with buddies we worry about.

It can start with something as simple as “how are you, really?”

And while you’re learning, consider signing up as a Buddy Up Champion, and participate in the June Challenge.

Support your own mental wellness

Remember back when we could easily go on flights? The airline attendants’ safety presentation always made mention of the importance of putting your own oxygen mask on first. The same applies for mental health and wellness.

We need to ask ourselves about the state of our oxygen mask, before we can help others.

If you’re oxygen mask isn’t on, or the seal isn’t tight, know there is help.

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, the Canada Suicide Prevention Service is available 24/7 for voice and 4pm to 12am ET for text.

It’s hard to ask for and receive help, but help is available. Reach out to someone you trust, and go through the steps together.

Don’t just be a buddy to others, be a buddy to yourself. Strengthen your health by prioritizing friendships and good relationships:

  • Show up at the feed store, elevator, or diner for coffee with your peers;
  • Schedule regular crop or cattle tours with a friend (e.g. meet up every second Wednesday to scout or check cows);
  • Participate in peer support groups;
  • Join a sports team, challenge a friend to a fitness routine, and/or sign up for a run (here’s CSP’s Virtual Run for Life);
  • Volunteer with a local rodeo, food bank, or other group that interests you;
  • Attend a conference or event with like-minded people; and/or
  • Run as a director or delegate for a farm or ranch organization.

Farming and ranching can be incredibly isolating. Let’s step up for each other. Let’s make the effort to schedule time with buddies, whether that’s in saddles, re-building the roof of a barn, sitting down for a regular coffee, going for a run, or heading out for a drive.

For more information, and to become a Buddy Up champion, head to the Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Buddy Up page.

If you know someone who is thinking about suicide, or if you’re thinking about suicide, call your local crisis line. In Canada, call 1-833-456-4566.

Buddy Up is a men’s suicide prevention communications campaign: a call to action to men, by men. Watch this video to learn more about the initiative and how it can be brought into organizations.

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