• Data from the World Health Organization shows that out of the 421 suicide cases in Kenya in 2017, 330 involved men.
• Patriarchy entails the control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.
Men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women due to harmful stereotypes about what it means to be a man.
This is according to the lobby HeForShe, which was formed by the United Nations as a global solidarity movement for gender equality.
Speaking to the Star on the phone, Chris from Nairobi who works in public relations, said men are more likely to kill themselves because they are not allowed to have open spaces where they can talk.
He said should they speak out about their problems, they are mocked because they are not behaving the way men should.
"Remember when Wetang'ula was supposedly beaten by his wife, he was mocked on social media... society has a belief that men should tough it out and be strong because they are the anchors of their families," Chris said.
He said when he was faced with unemployment, he avoided going to certain spaces because he would be judged for not being as successful as his peers.
"Depression kicks in when you cannot find anyone to turn to and because you are not supposed to show any signs of weakness, all these things accumulate and even friends are not able to provide that space or council you require," he said.
Data from the World Health Organization shows that out of the 421 suicide cases in Kenya in 2017, 330 involved men.
Additionally, the suicide mortality rate for men in 2000 was seven per cent per 100,000 population compared to women (1.9).
In 2016, the rate dropped to 5.1 per cent for men and 1.2 per cent for women.
Chris said men often resort to sex and drugs for comfort since they are led to believe this will help them solve their internal problems.
Human rights lawyer and gender expert Steff Musho said the traditional ideals of masculinity, perpetuated by patriarchy, place unrealistic expectations on men.
Miriam-Webster describes patriarchy as a social organisation marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line broadly.
Patriarchy entails control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.
"They hold inter alia, that 'real' men should not express emotions through crying. From an early age, boys are taught not to cry and as they grow older they are expected to 'man up' as a solution to problems that they face.
They then start to suppress their emotions and become less open about sharing their feelings. This includes rejecting the option of seeking professional help for their mental well-being," she said.
Musho said that because society has little regard for women and relegates them to the periphery when it comes to a wide range of issues including economic empowerment, the sole responsibility of provision has traditionally rested on men.
"This heavy expectation is undoubtedly a source of stress. Hard economic times such as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic exacerbate the situation, resulting in substance abuse, anxiety, and depression - and in worst-case scenarios, suicide. The statistics are cause for concern," she said.
"To improve the quality of life for men, including their mental well-being, we must then stop reinforcing dead stereotypes of masculinity and support feminists as they work to dismantle the patriarchy including, these toxic ideals of masculinity."