Visible Man is building better men for others through mental health advocacy and suicide prevention. We spoke with Jeff Hoffman, founder of Visible Man, who shared his insight into stigma and the crisis of male suicide.
Q: Why did your organization become a member of The Anti-Stigma Coalition?
Visible Man aims to end the problem of male suicide through connection, education, and training. We are a free, online support community of men and women who recognize that in order to address the high rate of male suicide, we must cultivate safe, constructive dialog around difficult topics and make it easy for men to connect. To do this, we meet on a Discord (text, voice, video chat) server where we host discussions and guest speakers on topics such as divorce, addiction, abuse, relationships, parenting, sexuality, and more. The VM server makes it easy to engage in text- or voice discussions with men from around the world, within a safe, actively moderated space that is partitioned into a public-facing section where anyone can participate, and a men-only section. The men-only section makes it safer for guys to open up, while the public section ensures the discussion is balanced with perspectives from all genders. Visible Man is excited to participate in the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition because it grows opportunities to connect with men through partnerships with the coalition members and those they serve. You can join the Visible Man Discord community at this link: https://discord.gg/BVQwwJ5
Q: How are people with mental health challenges impacted by stigma?
Men die by suicide at a rate four times that of women—one every 60 seconds—and use lethal means more often, meaning that men are more likely to complete a suicide attempt. While a man’s choice to be vulnerable can create the opportunity for connection, which is a protective factor against suicide, it lies in direct opposition to how society expects men to be strong and not need help. In this way, the stigma of appearing weak prevents men from seeking the help they need with mental health challenges.
Q: What impact is the Campaign having in the community?
The Anti-Stigma coalition’s campaign accelerates the impact that Visible Man can have on the community by connecting with more men who need support, and with the loved ones of those men. The coalition bridges mental health providers with the community that needs it, making it easier to reach men and for those men to connect. A recent comment by a member of the Visible Man community captures the impact that these connections can have: “I went through one of the hardest times in my life during the spring and summer, and I found this server and everyone and everything it has to offer helped me out of it.”