In some way, the cliché ‘Don’t cry like a girl’ has literally ruined lives of men. Suicides seem to kill more men than women, and psychiatrists believe that somewhere it is the societal attitude that is to be blamed for this. Ideally in a utopian society, one would expect both men and women to be equally strong mentally to battle out their woes and not succumb to it. But unfortunately, gender-based differences, which usually are skewed such that they harm the females more than males, have counter-intuitively led to the development where men find it difficult to express their emotions.
That ‘Don’t cry like a girl’ has become a dread, fearing the ridicule of which, men rather tend to bottle up their emotions than letting it flow. And this trait, in the long run, does more harm than good. It prevents men from seeking help, reaching out to people in hours of crisis and even accepting that they are depressed. Maybe that explains why worldwide data reveals that women are more prone to depression. It could be because women are the ones, who are accepting the fact that they are depressed and actually reaching out to seek professional help, while men still are grappling to deal with their depression.
Societal norms tell them they have to ‘fight their own battle’. They are men. Men asking for help might seem effeminate. These ingrained thoughts go a long way in preventing psychologically disturbed men from seeking help. While women, on the other hand, do not shy away from crying, letting their emotions flow and seeking help if need be. If not professional help, even a small step like having a heart to heart chat with a friend is not uncommon in women. Psychiatrists are of the opinion that these small actions of talking it out, actually help in releasing the pent up emotions. And the lack of this action in men leads to pent up emotions, which remain bottled up for a long while till they cannot take it any longer and finally it bursts out in the form of something as fatal as suicide.
Psychiatrists use the allegory of a pressure cooker here. While it is in the nature of women to release the pressure building up in them, men tend to keep it within them. This, in turn, leads to something as grievous as the suicide.
There are other theories as well, which explains why suicidal deaths are higher in men than in women. The ‘logical’ thinking brain of men is also said to be one of the reasons for this. Men are attuned to thinking in a certain way, like a flowchart, wherein there are only black and white. There is no scope for grey. Women, on the other hand, have a more emotional bent of mind and way of thinking. Due to these differences, men tend to measure their worth by strict parameters whereas women attach the emotional value to their being while measuring their worth. For instance, due to societal rules of the man being the ‘provider’, men tend to get far more disturbed with a job layoff than women. They tend to see no worth in their being if they cannot fulfill the role of a ‘provider’, hence the ‘logical’ thinking brain decides to end its life.
The third factor that is said to a contributing factor to this trend is the modus operandi used by the person committing suicide. Since men are said to be more violent in nature than women, their means of committing suicide are more aggressive, ones that definitively lead to death. Research shows that men use more aggressive and violent forms of suicides like jumping off a terrace, as compared to women who tend to adopt the less aggressive forms like an overdose of sleeping pills. The method of committing suicide is different in men and women, because of their basic difference in nature is also said to be the reason behind more number of successful suicide attempts in men than in women. As a result, data swells showing more number of men committing suicides than women because the unsuccessful suicide attempts are not accounted for.
All these factors add up leading to more number of suicide deaths in men than in women. So psychiatrists are of the opinion that it is about time societal norms are rewritten. It is about time men get to hear ‘It is okay to cry. Men can cry too’.
Symptoms of being suicidal