Dane County is launching a new suicide prevention campaign that encourages middle-aged men to talk about mental health.
The campaign promotes a web-based service that uses male humor to stimulate conversations about mental health assessments and treatment, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. "Man Therapy," which launched in 2012, was developed by Denver-based Cactus Marketing and Communications, the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention and the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, a suicide prevention organization.
Safe Communities is a nonprofit organization that's leading the Dane County campaign. Cheryl Wittke, the group's executive director, said Man Therapy provides a new way to reach men.
"We've been struggling to find a different way to encourage men to seek help," Wittke said. "This one provides more of a private space and gets people there with a unique, humorous approach."
Scott Braucht, 55, of Madison, wrote "Into The Light: A Middle-Aged Man's Recovery From Depression" after he struggled for five years to find an effective treatment for his depression. He said most middle-aged men want people to think they are smart, successful, healthy family men.
"If you don't have those things, you feel judged or you judge yourself," Braucht said. "It takes courage to say, 'I need help.'"
Jeff Ditzenberger, 43, tried to kill himself more than two decades ago after he returned from military service in Iraq. He agrees that there's a lot of social pressure that hinders men from seeking help for mental health problems.
"We're supposed to be tough," he said. "We're not supposed to cry."
Ditzenberger plans to share his story at a September event that will officially kick off Dane County's new Man Therapy campaign.
"There was a reason I didn't succeed in my suicide," he said. "I want people to know they're not the only ones going through this."
Men in Wisconsin are four times more likely to die by suicide than women. There was an average of 61 suicides, 45 of which were men, in Dane County each year from 2009 to 2013.
Here are resources in the La Crosse area:
Great Rivers 211
Dial 211 or toll-free at 1-800-362-8255
La Crosse Area Suicide Prevention Initiative
La Crosse County Crisis Line: 608-784-HELP (4357)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline