Features  |  Gender  

How patriarchy could be spiking the rate of suicide among men

By Torinmo Salau |   14 September 2018   |   12:40 pm  

“Both men and women suffer from the illnesses that lead to suicide but it is men that have a much higher rate of dying by suicide” – Chimamanda Adichie

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern about the high rate of suicide as a result of depression. Suicide rates are highest in low- and middle-income countries in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and including the US.

Mental illness is the major risk factor for suicide, and more than 90% of people who commit suicide have a mental or addictive disorder. Though depression is the most prevalent illness among those who die from suicide, with approximately 60% suffering from this condition but there are other underlying factors behind the upsurge in the suicides rates globally.

Nigerian writer and renowned feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, while giving a speech on Wednesday at Hubspot’s 2018 Inbound Conference in Boston USA, revealed why men have a higher rate of dying by suicide as opposed to women. She attributed this menace to patriarchy, saying ‘it is both a curse and a blessing.’

“Because men are socialized to suppress so many human parts of themselves, men are socialized not to ask for help, men are socialized to be afraid of fear, men are socialized not to show vulnerability.

“From the moment we tell a little boy that ‘boys don’t cry’ or we tell a hurting teenager to ‘man up’ we are creating an adult man who will be cheated of the full range of his emotions. So, while men benefit from patriarchy, they also suffer from it.”
Patriarchy is a system of male supremacy which upholds the views of men over women, whereby the thoughts and ideologies of the male gender continue to shape and dominate our society regarding political leadership, social privilege, and control of property.

Masculinity could be Standing in the way of Finding Help
As a result of the patriarchal mindset, which is deeply entrenched in our cultural values and religious beliefs, most men try to adhere to the quintessential masculine ideals, therefore think asking for psychological help will portray them as ‘weak’. Studies further reveal that before there is an incident of suicide, only 35% of men and 58% of women consult with a mental health expert.

According to Oliffe’s research, the indications of depression in men is slightly different from women. Rather than crying, men tend to show increased anger, moodiness, alcohol and substance abuse amongst others. The way forward regarding this problem is addressing the issue of patriarchy and masculinity in our society by breaking the gender identity stereotypes in our culture, it is okay for a man to be vulnerable, emotive and even cry if he wants to.

Chimamanda Adichie still speaking on patriarchy and gender inequality said there is no difference between men and women, that women should not be viewed differently or given special treatment. “There is nothing a woman should be because she is a woman, and there is nothing a man should be because he is a man.”

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