Hello there! I hope you are doing great. I also hope that you are staying safe from Corona.
Today we engage in a silent epidemic that is rarely addressed especially in the boy child community. We need to man up against the rising rates of suicide amongst men resulting from the mask of masculinity created by the society. Suicide is just a tip of the iceberg of the effects of masculinity!
Because the conversation about suicide needs to change and it starts with us!
Suicide is a highly complex mental issue tangled with multiple causes.
Suicide rates in men are typically at least four times higher than in women. Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for males.
Most men opt for suicide due to life’s tough circumstances. Often they tend to resist seeking mental health help. Other factors include : the mask of masculinity, or that the symptoms of depression in men are harder to see and easier to slip. Moreover, men tend choose violent methods such as using a gun, hanging themselves,or jumping from a storey building compared to women who choose less decisive methods such as an overdose of pills. Women, by virtue of their nature as nurtures, tend to think through the aftermath of suicide. However, this does not discredit the fact that suicide is not a gender specific issue!
A lot of stigma surrounds men’s mental health wellness. From childhood the society conditions men to be masculine i.e having physical strength and resilience. Here in Kenya we say” mwanamume ni gangster points”
They are expected not to show any emotions including crying which is considered a sign of weakness.
They are taught how to soldier on whatever they are going through. They are expected to put on a brave front even when they are dying on the inside. There is no room for vulnerability for men. As a result, they end up bottling up issues and pretending that they are okay. Finally they drown in depression and when they run out of solutions, they end up opting for suicide.
The rising rate of this epidemic is more than enough reason to reality check these societal standards. It’s crystal clear that the societal mask of masculinity is leading our men into suicide. I do have a dad, ( who I would want to walk down the aisle with) a brother, nephews, male friends and cousins and I wouldn’t want to lose any of them to suicide.
If the traditional toxic mask of masculinity and stigma surrounding men’s mental health is costing the boy child’s lives then it’s not worth the show!
Patriarchy is backfiring on itself!
The narrative of the brave front being pretending to be okay should be changed to speaking out and being vulnerable. Courage is putting vulnerability on the line! Expressing your feelings is strength and not weakness. The fact that vulnerability requires courage is more than enough to be considered strength!
It’s high time we drop the unrealistic definition of masculinity as created by society and encourage our men to express emotions and talk about their mental health.
Unlearning what the society has taught the boy child can be tough and scary at first. However, with consistent sharing of thoughts and feelings, to trusted people like friends, siblings, or a better half, it definitely becomes easier. You don’t have to over think the whole sharing process. It could be done while watching football, or bike riding, or during Fifa. Moreover, you could utilize the R U OK initiative in Australia with your boys which is done before any conversation.
By getting rid of the societal conditioning, and normalizing these conversations we make the world a better place for the future generation!
Seeking mental health help is also not a gender specific issue! It doesn’t make anyone less of a man! Anyone can seek help from a mental health professional! After all suicide can affect anyone despite the gender, or social class!
Jameni! Kujiua hakubagui!
The heaviest lift you can make today could be your phone!
Reach out to Befrienders Kenya, an organization that specializes in suicide prevention, through +254722178177. They will offer free counselling services.
In US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
In Australia the crisis support service lifeline is 13 11 14.
Just because you lost a job, a friend, a loved one, or a relationship, or there are financial and interpersonal difficulties at home, or you didn’t get a job after school, – name that painful event – doesn’t mean that you have to kill yourself!
There’s no shame in not being okay! It’s okay not to be okay!
Feel free to share your views on the relationship between masculinity and the boy child suicide rates!
Part 2 on toxic masculinity and suicide will come up another time.
Feel free to share what you want to read through kamaucynthia09 @gmail.com