Dr. Helen

Is Humor Helpful in Reducing Men's Suicide Rates?

I am on the fence on this one. Charlie Martin at PJM sent me the link to a site that was on for a fictional therapist to help men with their issues called “man therapy:”

Man Therapy is a tool designed to help men with their mental health. The more you tell me, Dr. Rich Mahogany, about what you’re up against, the more I can cater the content you see below to your situation. Carry on!

I googled this therapist Rich Mahogany and saw that he is a fictional character according to this 2012 NYT’s article:

A campaign based in Colorado aimed at men ages 25 to 64 introduces a fictional therapist, Dr. Rich Mahogany, an affable, mustachioed, middle-aged man whose personality might be described as Dr. Phil meets Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell’s fictional anchorman.

In a public service announcement and in videos featured on a new Web site, ManTherapy.org, Dr. Mahogany, played by John Arp, is featured in his office, which is filled with items like a mounted moose head, ax and baseball trophies.

“Men have a way of doing things,” he begins in the spot. “A man has his way of eating” — he’s shown eating a sandwich made from an entire loaf of Italian bread. “Of exercising” — he does bicep curls with a bowling ball. “Of keeping his hands warm” — he thrusts his hands down the front of his khakis. “And of straightening out” — he uses a leaf blower to clear his desk of stacks of paper.

“So when a man faces a serious life problem, like divorce, depression or suicidal thoughts, shouldn’t a man have a way to deal with that, too?” he continues. “Well, now he does. I’m Dr. Rich Mahogany. Visit me at ManTherapy….

Jeffrey Boal, the founder of the Plowshare Group, which develops distribution strategies for public service announcements, reviewed the campaign and said its humor would serve it well when it comes to getting airtime donated.

I wonder how well this program is working in getting men to reach out. Humor can go either way: making light of a problem or making people pay attention and maybe do something. Men tend to use humor often in their daily lives but using humor in suicide prevention? That’s tricky.

What is your take on this method of PSA type announcements regarding men’s suicide?