Report: Men are less likely to seek mental health services due to “man box” condition
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The rate of suicide among men in The Bahamas is more than five times higher than women, according to a United Nations (UN) report.
The UN’s Human Development report, titled: ‘Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century’ for 2019 reflects data on suicides from 2016.
According to the report, the suicide rate in 2016 among women — which is expressed per 100,000 people in the reference population — was 0.5.
Among men, the suicide rate was 2.8 that year.
Over the last two decades, suicides rates in The Bahamas have declined.
Among men, the suicide rate was 3.7 in 2000, 3.3 in 2010 and 2.9 in 2015.
The suicide rate among women in The Bahamas was 0.7 in 2000; 0.6 in 2010; and 0.5 in 2015.
The Bahamas’ global ranking on the UNDP remained unchanged at 60 of out 189 countries; though its human development index value improved.
Barbados held the highest HDI value in the region and ranked 54.
It’s suicide rate among men and women was 0.8 and 0.3 respectively, according to the report.
In comparison, Trinidad and Tobago, which ranked 63rd, had a suicide rate of 21.9 among men and 4.3 among women based on 2016 data.
The lowest suicide rates include countries in the Arab States, while the highest existed in Sub-Saharan African countries.
According to the report, men are less likely to seek mental health services than men, in part due to the traditional gender roles that restrict men to expectations of masculinity, a construct dubbed the “man box”.
The report said engaging men and boys is a critical piece of advancing the gender equality agenda, noting that while women and girls bear the brunt of gender inequalities, men and boys are also “affected by traditional conceptions of gender”.
It said though men usually have more agency than women in their lives, men’s decision and behaviors are also “profoundly shaped by rigid social and cultural expectations relate to masculinity”, which is described as the pattern of social behaviors or practices associated with ideals about how men should behave.
“Some characteristics of masculinity relate to dominance, toughness and risk-taking, recently referred to as toxic masculinity of the man box, in that traditional behaviors of the gender roles restrict men to act in a certain way that preserves existing power structures,” the report said.
“In 2019, Promundo (a Brazilian based NGO) along with Unilever (a British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company) estimated the economic impacts of the man box in Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States, considering bullying, violence, depression, suicide, binge drinking and traffic accidents as costs of restricting men to masculine behaviors.
“Two of the most damaging consequences from men are related to their mental health: men are less likely to seek mental health services that women are, and men are more likely to die by suicide that women are.”
It added: “Besides the ethical and social gains of gender equality, men as individuals can benefit from expressing freely, from having more options in their own experiences and behaviors and from having better and healthier relationships with women and girls.”