WARNING: This piece refers to suicide. Emergency and counselling contact details are provided at the end of the article.
The passing of rapper Riky Rick shocked many people, including me. I have been close to that edge a number of times and thought of jumping. I never did – but I understood him and other people who jumped. As the news unfolded and was really becoming a reality to a lot of people who revered Riky, and didn’t want his passing to be true, compassion was shown. To my surprise, though, another conversation rose to the surface.
A lot of social media posts came up saying: “Men you are on your own” – Twitter user, Simon Pela. And: “As a man, you either open up and become a meme or bottle things up and become a memory” – Facebook user, Lavu Dokta.
That was the surprising conversation. They justified their comments by bringing up Will Smith and Tyrese Gibson who became memes by opening up on a public platform.
There might be some truth in this, but men aren’t, and have never been, on their own. Women have always supported us, and been on our side. We live in South Africa that has been said to be the most dangerous place in the world to live in, if you are a woman, because of what we do to women as men. Yet women continue to call us Kings. They continued to praise us and bask in our beauty as men.
We do not open up because of the stigma we have put on the concept of opening up. We refuse to unlearn toxic masculine traits we were taught as boys, and continue to teach them to the young. We tell boys every day: “Indoda ayikhali” – a man does not cry;” and we get surprised when they grow up to be like us – men who do not open up.
I also believe that this is more than just the toxic masculine element we were taught. It is also us refusing to take responsibility for our own healing. Opening up to a friend or significant other does not equate to the need for therapy – or might be therapeutic in itself. We all have traumas; each and every one of us needs to take responsibility for their own healing and take the right measures. It is our individual responsibility to book an appointment with a professional and really start our healing process.
For professional help and counselling call one of these numbers:
SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group): 0800 567 567 (toll-free counselling between 8am and 8pm)
FAMSA (Families South Africa): 011 975 7106/7 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SADAG Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567
Befrienders Suicide Hotline: 051 444 5691
Rape Crisis: 021 447 9762
Lifeline: 0861 322 322
STOP Gender based violence: 0800 150 150
GBV command centre: 800 428 428 or *120*7867# (free)
AIDS Helpline: 0800 012 322 or (011) 725 6710
Alcoholics Anonymous South Africa: 0861 435 722
If you liked this story, you may enjoy reading Ekasi: Men Don’t Cry
Tell us: Is talking to a professional counsellor the only safe way for men to get things off their chest?