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Depression is usually a precursor to suicide, yet in many countries young adult men who seem to be doing well in life are taking their own lives.
Researchers wondered why young men who were functioning competently, did not complain of depression or show signs of it, and had no history of mental health problems were suddenly ending life.
After conducting in-depth interviews with family and close friends of ten young productive men who died by suicide, the researchers found a common thread.
Each of the ten apparently lacked a sense of self-worth and compensated by inflating the importance of being successful. Their sense of worth rested on a fragile foundation of achievement-based self-esteem—a foundation that cannot support the experience or perception of rejection and failure.
The young men’s psychological pain seemingly became unmanageable when their usual strategy of working with excellence or increased effort no longer paid off (made them feel worthy).
“In these situations there is a strong sense of shame and of being trapped in anger. This develops into unbearable thoughts that the vulnerable person cannot regulate or manage, and leads to a feeling of a life not worth living,” said researcher Mette Lyberg Rasmussen.
Depression screenings generally pinpoint depressive symptoms. They are not designed to detect people at risk for suicide because their self worth is based on achievement. So, we each need to take an honest look at ourselves and what our self worth is based on.
The strongest, most resilient foundation of self worth is one that lies within ourself. Inner-based self worth may sag when we are stressed, but it eventually bounces back. It is made from acceptance of our clumsiness and talents, our weaknesses and strengths.
Instead of choosing to live by the world’s standards of success we choose to support life, including our own.
Self worth that depends on our perception of how others see us will always be shaky. Any time we do not feel approved of this foundation can crumble. Working hard, even being great at what we do, may not be enough to restore it—we cannot count on others seeing us as we hope to be seen.
For many of us, establishing a healthy sense of self worth is a journey we choose after reaching adulthood. On this journey, people learn to respect themselves by:
If your sense of self worth is lacking there is nothing wrong with you. The human condition is such that most people reach adulthood with a lot left to learn. The journey to healthy self worth takes patience and persistence, but it can be interesting and is worth the effort.
Source: Science Daily
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