I’m an All Black and I’m OK

It’s our national sport here in New Zealand; some say it’s our national religion.

Rugby, it’s not a game for wimps. 15 players are throwing themselves at each other to get a ball across a line at the other end of the field. No helmets, no shoulder pads, the only protection being a mouth guard.

We New Zealanders are the best in the world. The All Blacks won the World Cup last year, and last night celebrated 16 wins in a row when they triumphed over South Africa to win the inaugural Rugby Championship.

It’s a great game played by tough men. Love it.

Like many sports, it can teach us valuable life lessons such as teamwork, perseverance, and practice.

One particular past All Black is John Kirwan recently knighted for his services to both Rugby and Mental Health. A man that has been open and honest about his struggle with depression. In fact, he has probably helped thousands and thousands of men all around to be able to get the help they need facing depression. Check him out here.

This blog post is not about Rugby, it is not about The All Blacks, it’s about suicide.

This week in our local community we have had someone take their life. It was a huge shock to everyone.

In our church service today we prayed for the family and the community.

In New Zealand, 547 people killed themselves in the period from July 2011 to June 2012. Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean believes that suicide needs to be “gently” brought “out of the shadows.”

Here are some of my thoughts.

We need more John Kirwan’s.

Men who can talk freely about the battle of depression.

The Kiwi male stereotype of being self-sufficient is a huge barrier to getting the help and support needed.

I talked to the congregation today about us all needing safe relationships where we can talk. People who are suicidal first of all need to know they are loved and have value. Then out of this base of security further help needs to be sought.

I have recently started reading On the Threshold of Transformation: Daily Meditations for Men by Richard Rohr.

Here are some excerpts

After twenty years of working with men on retreats and rites of passage, in spiritual direction, and even in prison, it has sadly become clear to me how trapped the typical Western male feels. He is trapped inside, with almost no inner universe of deep meaning to heal him or guide him. Historically, this is exactly what spirituality meant by “losing your soul.” It did not happen later or after death unless it first happened here.

One of the most surprising but revealing discoveries [is] that much male anger is actually male sadness. Men often have no way to know this themselves, and many probably even think of themselves as “angry men.” They are often very sad men, but they have no differentiated feeling world, no vocabulary, no safe male friends, no inner space or outer setting in which to open up such a chasm of feeling-not even in their churches or with their partners.

We can live without success, but the soul cannot live without meaning. Father Richard Rohr OFM

We were never meant to be alone. We all need friends, safe friends.

People who will affirm our value and worth.

Friends who will be with us when the world around us is All Black.

 

Question to consider. Share in the comments 

  • How much does a person’s ‘losing your soul’ play into suicidality?

Barry Pearman

Image by Riv Creative Commons Flickr

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