One of my favourite channels is TheJapanChannelDcom. The always-unnamed speaker discusses all things Japanese. Some light and frivolous, others charming, or practical, or traditional, or educational, and occasionally, to his credit he honestly reports on the darker side of Japanese culture.
This one particular episode discusses the notion of the Japanese having little compassion. In short, the Japanese are Stoics: when things are tough, don’t complain, try harder! Do your best! The notion of sharing one’s problems with another in Japan is inconceivable. What can the listener do about it? While this makes for a very self-reliant people, it can also have a downside: people are isolated, even in crowds, and this has a significant impact on the suicide rate. Seeing a psychologist or councillor is considered shameful, to the degree that suicide is seen in a better light than seeking what we Westerners would refer to as help.
This reminds me very much about how we often expect men to handle things. Men don’t speak much about our problems because it’s frowned upon. We should just try harder! Court has ordered you to pay 110% of your earnings in child support? Try harder! Can’t find a job because you you were unable to pay 110% of your salary in child support and you’ve had your professional licences revoked by the court? Try harder! Complain about it, and you’re simply weak and a loser. Shame on you for complaining.
Not unsurprisingly, a good many men commit suicide shortly after having their family destroyed, access to their children denied, outrageous court and lawyer fees applied, which is often followed by job loss, and eventually, depression which can to a final act.
I’ve often thought that suicide on its own is an example of a person feeling that they are without choices. Some men, pushed to the extreme, in the last act of helpless protest choose self-immolation. This is a fate that seems to be mostly reflected in some fathers, at the end of their rope choose; it is the ultimate act of despair.
All in all, the video is really worth the listen. I’ve been subbed to this channel for at least a couple of years. It never gets old, and the speaker is a very insightful man.