The DJ’s last instagram post caused people to worry about his mental state.

DJ XGee’s post shared on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 read:

Okay there is a twist to this last respect ppl give to their loved ones when gone ....Black as signs of sadness ..but in my case please Rock WHITE Cos i love this colour so much . to all have made smiled and to those i have pissed off trust me im only being Human. Enikorewa i love u so much , Eriayo u name sums it all up u are truly d reason for my Joy . Omobolanle ajoke u know i care .. Moradeke my mum may my God heal u and to my in-Laws Stay Blessed Always ,” the DJ notes.

As the entertainment world mourns the exit of a beloved colleague, DJ XGee's passing opens up a very necessary dialogue about black men and mental health. Whilst suicide as a whole is a cause for concern, the rate at which it is rising among black men is alarming. The reasons are multifaceted and nuanced but in large part come back to the issue of toxic masculinity and the unrealistic expectation placed on men about how they should handle their emotions.

A lot of men have not been taught how to process and talk about their emotions and emotional experiences which breeds a sense of isolation, feelings of anger and even resentment. This emotional hindrance creates an emotional volatility that can sometimes manifest in outward expression of anger, aggression, and even violence. In extreme cases those feelings turn inwards and result in an emotional crisis and a decline in one's mental health.

Many men, especially growing up in black families, struggle with the idea of being openly vulnerable and sharing how they feel. They have internalised that being emotionally vulnerable is an inherently female trait and that men need to essentially 'suck it up'.

This misconception is what is killing our men.

For those who grew up as sensitive boys, the ridicule and shaming that they faced for what is a healthy and natural expression of themselves causes them to suppress those feelings and put up an emotional barrier as a means of protection. Black men face a unique problem in that, often, what is most prized about them may be their fetishised looks or physiques but rarely ever their intellect and emotional intelligence.

These traits are seen as too 'soft' and the message that puts out to young black men is that if they, in any way, embody these traits, they need to change.

These problems are often circular and stops men from getting help, even when they recognise that they need it. In order for black men to get help, they must open up enough to let someone know that they need help. However, in order to open up and ask for help, they have to break through the self-constructed emotional barriers they have put up due to societal pressures and unrealistic expectations.

The death of seemingly happy and successful young men like DJ XGee often rocks communities because it is so unexpected and difficult to comprehend. The take away is that we never know what people are secretly battling.

As a society, we need to understand the importance of empathy. We are generally pretty well tuned in to our own feelings and emotions. But empathy allows us to "walk a mile in another's shoes.". It allows us to understand the emotions that another person is feeling.

How to help a loved one who is depressed or suicidal

  • Share your stories, listen and watch for the signs when you know a person is in pain/unusually silent or unusually exuberant.
  • If you haven’t heard from a good friend in a while, call them, drop by their house, invite them out for a lunch and just listen while they talk.
  • Offer a kind and willing ear and don’t, please don’t, blame the person for feeling the way he/she does. They, literally, cannot help themselves.
  • The issue isn’t physical, but deeply chemical, an imbalance in the brain that causes mental illness or suicidal thoughts.
  • Gently broach the subject of professional help if you find the person receptive enough.
  • Keep a helpline number handy if you suspect a person may be suicidal. Don’t hesitate to call them.