In the summer of 2017, the film Wonder Woman made box office waves around the world.
It debuted at No.1 in many of the countries it was screened,
raked in revenue far exceeding (industry) expectations for a female led superhero
movie, and made Patty Jenkins a hero herself by breaking the glass ceiling for female
While her achievement was celebrated, it nonetheless
highlighted a pressing social concern.
The gender divide has increasingly been recognized as a problem
affecting societal interaction in a multitude of arenas. Stereotypes abound for
what roles men and women should play – it also dictates how they should or should
not act under certain circumstances.
A gender divide regarding suicide exists too, with the tables
turned on men.
Since 2010, the ratio of male to female suicide deaths in
Singapore stands at approximately 2:1. Nationally, twice as many males than
females die by suicide on average.
This is in line with the trend for many developed countries,
where consistently more males than females die by suicide. Interestingly, it is
believed that significantly more women than men attempt suicide. This is known
as the gender paradox in suicide.
The attribution of this trend is tied to two key factors.
First, it is noted that men tend to choose more violent
methods of suicide than women.
Such methods include suicide by firearms, jumping, and hanging,
all of which are decidedly non-reversible. With one action, the process of
suicide is put in motion with little chance of recall.
In the instance of other methods of suicide, such as
poisoning or an overdose, emergency medical help
can be activated and appropriate measures to enhance survival rates have
a chance to be administered.
That said, it’s important to note that no method of suicide
is painless, easy, or without dire consequences.
The second commonly cited reason why more men than women die
by suicide has to do with attitudes to coping and help-seeking behavior.
There is a growing body of research which suggests that men
are less likely to seek help than women. This is also supported through client
services data at SOS, where there are consistently more female than male users.
Men tend to compare
themselves to a masculine standard which emphasizes greater levels of tolerance
and independence. They may feel a continuous or greater pressure to solve issues
faced on their own and suppress feelings of distress.
Help-seeking is then often
associated to a loss of status, damage to identity, dependence, loss of
autonomy, and incompetence – all of which are in opposition to the socially
constructed male standard.
This creates an unhealthy and unnecessary ‘man up or shut up’ type of mentality.
They may want to
reach out for help at some point but because this method of expressing
themselves is not what they are accustomed to, they may not know how to when it
Whether it is
culturally or intra-personally imposed, the message men seem to have
internalized is that they cannot and must not talk about issues that affect
them negatively or emotionally.
And if they go one
step further – to actually ask for help, then it seems like they’ve crossed the
line and gone against everything that “being a man” means to society and
Know someone who may be facing a crisis or going through a
tough time? Learn what you can do to help someone in crisis, or find out more about our services here.