Last month, I wrote about Earl Silverman closing down his shelter for abused men. The Men’s Alternative Safe House (MASH) was reportedly the only private men’s shelter in Canada. Earl paid for everything out of his own pocket, but could no longer shoulder the costs. He eventually sold the home. The day after he finished packing everything up, Earl hanged himself in the garage. According to the article, Earl was a victim of abuse at the hands of his ex-wife, and found it difficult to get help:
“When I went into the community looking for some support services, I couldn’t find any. There were a lot for women, and the only programs for men were for anger management,” Mr. Silverman told the Post shortly before his death. “As a victim, I was re-victimized by having these services telling me that I wasn’t a victim, but I was a perpetrator.”
The article also states that Earl left a suicide note, but does not state whether it was released to the public. In the note, Earl reportedly blames the Canadian government for failing to recognize male survivors of domestic violence.
This is a horrible thing. I take suicide very seriously because I have been personally touched by it. I can understand Earl’s frustration at the Canadian government as it has a terrible record on acknowledging and supporting male survivors. Yet as much as I understand that, I do not think it was worth taking his life over.
Funding can be raised, issues can be talked about, and male survivors can be recognized without having to take your life. Granted, I do not know what else was going on in Earl’s life. Perhaps he had other issues that prompted his decision. I do wish he had reached out to someone. While I know that would be difficult given Canada’s apparent disinterest in helping men, I would hope that he knew someone he could have talked to.
The response to Earl’s suicide has been interesting. Most of the well-known men’s rights sites covered his death. Someone set up a fund to raise money for the Earl Silverman Center. At last viewing, there some issues with Paypal accepting donations, however, they have already reached half their goal of $10,000. I encourage readers to donate if you can.
The media seems to have done a fair job of the coverage. Even the blissfully progressive Huffington Post featured a balanced article about Earl, including acknowledging the men, when asked, report as much domestic violence as women. The Good Men Project shockingly featured a column by Glen Poole, although it currently has a whopping two comments.
To my knowledge, no feminists other than Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams has commented on Earl’s suicide. Her article was less about reporting Earl’s suicide or acknowledging his work so much as it was about dismissing the notion that men can and do experience as much domestic violence as women. Williams showed no compassion or respect for Earl at all. It would have been better if she did like other feminists seem to have done and pretended nothing happened.
It is terrible that Earl took his own life. I cannot express that powerfully enough in writing. This is never an option. No matter how bad your life feels, taking your life does not solve much of anything. Yes, Earl’s suicide brought more attention to domestic violence against males, and in the short-term that may be a good thing. But it would have been better in the long-run to have an advocate like Earl here with us to actively speak out about these issues.
His voice cannot be replaced.
However, I hope he finds some peace now.