July 2nd, 2019

Why 'Man Up' Isn't Working

David Laskovski: Why 'Man Up' Isn't Working
Mental Health | Real Stories

I think if you were to ask any emergency first responder to tell you the worst call they’ve ever had, they probably aren’t going to tell you the truth. Because you don’t want to hear the real story.

You are with someone in the worst moment of their life. Sometimes the final moments of their life.

That’s what we do. That’s our job. It’s tough. And yet we come back the next day and a lot of us feel we need to power through it and keep peddling on. That can take a toll sometimes.

My name is David Laskovski and I’m an emergency medical dispatcher for the Toronto paramedic services.
My path to becoming a mental health advocate for my peers and my family members was when one of my friends and co-worker, Steve, died by suicide.

"This ridiculous notion of “man up” and “suck it up” is just not working."

My team was on nights. We responded to a call whose friend had found them unconscious and not breathing. It turned out that person had passed away. When we were listening to the coroner and they read off the name, we realized that Steve had taken his own life. And that’s how we found out.

After learning about what had happened to Steve there were a lot of emotions. The biggest one was shame. I felt bad that I didn’t know or I didn’t talk to him about what was going on. Then I was kind of angry that he didn’t come forward and bring it up to me.

But it was out of that I decided I needed to learn more, so I decided to jump on an opportunity at work to become a trainer for suicide intervention. And out of that, I’ve trained many of my coworkers, paramedics, managers and dispatchers on how to intervene if someone is suicidal and how to pick up on the signs.

This ridiculous notion of “man up” and “suck it up” is just not working. When three-fourths of suicides are men there is a problem. I started working here when I was 21. I was a kid. You are not less of a man for speaking up. You are more of a man because that means you want to fix things. You are self-aware and you want to be an example for the people in your lives.