“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold when he is only sad.” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Article mentions Suicide. Information presented in this article may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts or feeling suicidal, we suggest you immediately call up a suicide prevention helpline - eg Vandrevala Foundation Helpline - 1 860 266 2345 (24x7), Aasra - +91 22 2754 6669 (24x7).
For the most part since the evolution of human beings, men were assumed to be the breadwinners. There were certain anthropological reasons but that is not the point of discussion. The point of discussion here is the understanding that men ‘have’ to provide for the family and in pursuit of the same, they ‘have’ to be ‘strong’. Expressing emotions, being sensitive, or crying were all signs of weaknesses. While mothers may or may not choose to, fathers ‘have’ to be concerned about their children's education as if it was only their duty, and they have to be the ones who ‘can not' express their love for their children straightforwardly.
When was the last time you saw your father hug their father or you hugged your father or told your father that you love them or vice versa?
If the person in the equation becomes your mother, do the chances of the mentioned activities increase?
THE GENDER PARADOX of masculinity leading to suicides is surprising. A study published on September 19th, 2022 suggests that high self-reliance is of particular concern for men experiencing psychological distress. It was termed a Gender Paradox because more women were reported to have suicidal ideations while more men were dying by suicide. Whether or not the parameters of masculinity impact women in distress is a separate point of discussion altogether.
India showed an increase of 7.2% from 2020 in suicide incidences (1,64,033 in 2021) in the country. India witnessed a record number of suicides in 2021 out of which the ratio of men to women was 72.5:27.4 which translates to 1,18,979 men. But have we given any thought to why this happens and yet is not a point of discussion? Does this imply that men and women are not alike when it comes to certain personality traits? Are these traits particularly masculine and/or feminine?
Well, Studies Suggest Differently-
The "Big Five" personality traits of psychology DO NOT categorically vary between men and women.
Contrary to stereotypes, women were NOT found to be significantly more intimate in their relationships, and scientific inclination DID NOT overwhelmingly favour men.
Masculinity and femininity, the study found, "are not all-or-nothing traits, they are truly a continuum."
Does that mean that the stereotypes men are subjected to aren’t true? There are stereotypical understandings of how men ‘should’ behave to appear more masculine or the harmful concept of masculinity which also places significant importance on ‘manliness’ based on strength, lack of emotion, self-sufficiency, dominance and sexual virility.
FEW STEREOTYPES INVOLVING MEN AND WOMEN
- Men don’t have feelings and are cold while women are irrational and over-emotional.
- Men care about practical issues more than women, while women care about children more than men.
- Men have to take care of women and women have to teach men how to feel.
Physically, men are very different from women based on various factors, anthropology being one but psychologically, not really. For 122 different characteristics, from empathy to sexuality to science inclination to extroversion, a statistical analysis of 13,301 individuals did not reveal any distinct differences between men and women. They consistently overlapped in attitudes and traits like empathy or fear of success. Therefore, to think of yourself in terms of being masculine and feminine seems like a harmful idea. As the above research indicates, these are arbitrary and artificial distinctions.
Why does the Suicide Rate in Men Differ?
UNDERDIAGNOSIS OF DEPRESSION
The underdiagnosis of depression in men may turn out to be one of the foremost reasons for a higher rate of suicide among men. It is often observed that men do not share their feelings due to various reasons and when they do it is mostly about ‘work stress or relationship issues’ while the truth might be much more severe than being depicted by men.
As discussed earlier in the article, self-reliance has been seen to be a greater risk factor for men dying by suicide because the extent of (toxic) self-reliance has ingrained in men that they do not have to seek any support for their emotional needs. After all, ‘Men are Strong (and cold)’, isn’t it?
SELF-TREATMENT OF THEIR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
Another major reason for this difference prevalent in the rate of suicides between men and women is the self-treatment of their mental health issues. Men tend to resort to alcohol or other drugs for relieving themselves of the symptoms of depression which is another major risk factor for suicide.
MEN CAN'T CRY
Men can’t cry and if they do, they aren't men, they are doing so because they have feminine characteristics, isn’t it? We are all familiar with “don’t cry like a girl”.
As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
At MentAmigo, we are very well aware of what Henry Wadsworth meant and therefore provide you with an open, safe and non-judgmental zone to speak your mind honestly. A space wherein you don't have to fear being under the radar at all times or being assessed for what you speak and all of this at your comfort through MentAmigo's Online Therapy platform. Online Therapy is proven to be as effective as traditional face-to-face counseling if not more.