Follow Up to My Recent Blog Post about American Men
I wish I had seen this mini-documentary about “What’s Killing America’s White Men?” before writing and posting my immediately preceding post about what’s wrong with men in America. I happened across it by accident while looking for something else on Youtube.
The mini-documentary was created and broadcast by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) not very long ago. I have not found the exact date of its creation or broadcast.
In this mini-documentary a woman reporter for the BBC claims that the suicide rate among middle aged white men is increasing at an alarming rate and much faster than the rate among white females or black males. Her question is why?
She selects Montana as her site of investigation because the rate of increase in suicides among white males is greatest there—of all places in the United States. She found that interesting. Why Montana of all places? So she went to Montana and talked to people. Among others she interviewed the wife and daughters of a relatively young, barely middle aged white Montana man and the older single man who came close to committing suicide.
*Sidebar: The opinions expressed here are my own (or those of the guest writer); I do not speak for any other person, group or organization; nor do I imply that the opinions expressed here reflect those of any other person, group or organization unless I say so specifically. Before commenting read the entire post and the “Note to commenters” at its end.*
The reporter’s tentative conclusion (after much research beyond just the two interviews mentioned above) is that many middle aged white men in America feel lonely and useless. Traditional jobs are disappearing and nobody is offering middle aged white males who have been laid off and replaced (or not replaced because the job went away) help in retooling for new work. The message they are hearing is, to quote a former governor of Colorado, “Get out of the way.”
But perhaps more importantly, the reporter found, many middle aged white men feel lonely. One she interviewed spoke eloquently about the pain of loneliness. (He is apparently a widower although perhaps a bachelor or divorced person.) Many men have never developed lasting friendships.
This BBC mini-documentary is the first such I have seen about this problem—if it is a problem. I suspect many American news producers would not consider it a problem worth their attention. Whenever I see a documentary on PBS (usually they are broadcast on Sunday evenings but re-broadcast throughout the week) it is about women and girls—IF it is about gender issues. Documentary makers who focus on social problems seem obsessed with social problems facing females—not only in America but around the world. I would take nothing away from that. But I don’t see why it takes the BBC to bring attention to a problem facing men.
The BBC mini-documentary also raises the issue of the increasing gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” in Montana and elsewhere and how that is affecting men. The realistic hope of achieving “the American dream” is gone—except for a few.
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