On November 19, men all over the world were celebrated for the positive values they bring to their families, communities and the world at large.
However, while we rejoice with the male gender for their contribution to society and the world at large, we must not overlook a glaring and growing crisis threatening the survival of the male species. This culprit that is growing and being fed by societal expectations is ‘SUICIDE’.
Suicide is a complex and multifaceted issue that affects individuals across various demographics.
However, a notable gender disparity exists, with men being more likely to die by suicide than women. This phenomenon has sparked considerable research and debate, aiming to unravel the underlying factors and find effective strategies to combat this alarming trend.
Reason For Higher Suicide Rate In Men
Social Expectations and Gender Norms: Traditional gender roles often dictate that men should be strong, stoic, and less likely to express vulnerability.
Men are often told to man up, never to cry even when hurt, and show no sign of weakness.
Societal expectations can lead men to internalize their struggles, making them less likely to seek help or share their emotional burdens.
Stigma Surrounding Mental Health: Persistent stigmas surrounding mental health can be particularly detrimental to men, who may fear being perceived as weak or incapable if they admit to experiencing mental health challenges.
Speaking about mental health in gatherings can help in reducing stigma and normalize seeking help.
Communication Styles: Men may be more comfortable expressing distress through actions rather than words, making their struggles less visible.
Promoting healthy communication skills and emotional expression can help men articulate their feelings and access support more effectively.
This should begin from childhood. Allow boys to communicate their feelings and express themselves as much as possible. Phrases like ‘you are a man, don’t talk too much’ should be avoided.
Substance Abuse: Substance abuse is a significant risk factor for suicide, and men are more likely to engage in risky behaviours, including alcohol and drug misuse.
Substance abuse prevention and treatment programs can play a vital role in reducing suicide rates among men.
Access to Lethal Means: Men often choose more lethal methods, such as firearms, when attempting suicide, contributing to a higher completion rate.
While possessing firearms might be a bit tricky in Nigeria, it is not farfetched to state that other substances are easily accessible, which makes it easier to commit suicide.
There should be restricted access to substances such as Sniper and any form of poison.
How Do We Give Men A Fighting Chance?
Promoting Mental Health Education:
Incorporating mental health education into school curricula and workplace training can increase awareness and reduce stigma.
Providing information about available mental health resources empowers individuals to seek help when needed.
Enhancing Access to Mental Health Services:
Increasing accessibility and affordability of mental health services ensures that individuals, regardless of gender, can easily access the support they need.
Fostering Supportive Environments: Creating environments that encourage emotional expression and vulnerability helps combat toxic masculinity norms.
Supportive communities, both online and offline, can play a crucial role in fostering a sense of belonging and understanding.
Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes: Challenging and deconstructing harmful gender stereotypes can contribute to a more inclusive and supportive society.
Encouraging diverse representations of masculinity in media and popular culture can positively impact societal attitudes.
Training Healthcare Professionals: Training healthcare professionals to recognize and address the unique challenges men face in seeking mental health support is essential.
Cultivating empathy and understanding among healthcare providers can create a more inclusive and responsive mental health system.
The gender disparity in suicide rates is a complex issue rooted in societal expectations, stigma, and communication norms.
It is crucial to address these factors comprehensively to combat this alarming trend. Promoting mental health education, enhancing access to services, fostering supportive environments, breaking down gender stereotypes, and providing targeted training for healthcare professionals are critical components of a multifaceted strategy to reduce the high rate of male suicide.