One of the photos on display at the Man-Up Against Suicide photo exhibit at the Stonewall Quarry Park Heritage Arts Centre Aug. 18 to 28. (Adam Peleshaty, Interlake Publishing, Postmedia Network)
A photo exhibit at the Heritage Arts Centre (HAC) at Stonewall’s Quarry Park is hoping to start a conversation on men’s mental health.
Man-Up Against Suicide, a Vancouver-based photography project touring across Canada and in the U.K., will have 10 photos on display inside the HAC’s Fullbrook Room Aug. 18 to 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every photo in the exhibit, and the captions accompanying them, were made by people affected by men’s suicide. The project is funded by both the Movember Foundation and the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Kerstin Roger, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Community Health Sciences, helped bring the exhibit to Manitoba and said men’s suicide is a growing problem in society that is not being discussed.
“We know that older men are increasingly at risk for suicide and we already know that young men between the ages of 18 and 24 are at risk of suicide. So, finding ways to promote discussion is really important,” Roger explained. “I think (the exhibit) is really important, because it does help promote discussion for families, as well as for individuals, about guys who are struggling with issues like depression and suicide.”
Roger added there are still many misconceptions regarding suicide amongst men.
“I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that if you don’t talk about it, you’re not struggling with it or you don’t have those feelings…Men (should) speak about it so that they’re not silent or alone with it,” she said.
A survey conducted by the UBC Men’s Depression and Suicide Network found 23 per cent of Canadian men have been diagnosed or treated for depression with the same percentage of Canadian men having considered or attempted suicide. While there is already a stigma attached to those who suffer from mental illness, it can be greater for those in rural communities. Roger stated this was one of the reasons Stonewall is hosting the exhibit.
“We were looking for smaller towns and rural sites because we think there might be higher stigma in smaller places around talking about this topic,” Roger said.
She said the tour was actively searching for rural sites. She identified Neepawa as a future stop for the exhibit.
The photos in the exhibit evoke emotions ranging from despair to hope and Roger hopes these photos will have people talking, which she claims is one of the best ways to reduce rates of men’s suicide.
“The biggest prevention is having people feel like they can talk and that can be through a multitude of different ways: having community-based programs, having outreach programs, having shows like this. But also just having places where men can gather and talk to each other,” she said.
For more information on the exhibit, visit www.manupagainstsuicide.ca. For more information on men’s mental health, visit menshealthresearch.ubc.ca or headsupguys.ca.