Women have traditionally been labelled the weaker sex. But the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for suicide rates each year contradicts this and shows a consistent increase in the rate of suicides among men, especially married men.
In India, as many as 61,453 married men ended their lives in 2010, compared to 31,754 women. After Chennai, Bangalore tops the list with 515 husbands taking the extreme step. Also, the rate of suicides among married men has almost doubled in the last 15 years. This makes us wonder whether more men are at the receiving end in marriages, or are there other issues that men face that need to be addressed.
According to Sneha Fernandes, counsellor at Transforming Lives, an organisation which provides family counselling, unlike women, men do not have options to vent their feelings of depression or frustration. “Women are expressive. They talk to their friends or family and depend on them for support. Whereas men are used to bottling up their feelings. I meet so many married men who just want someone to talk to and cry, but don’t find the comfort in their partners.”
While the lack of emotional support could be a reason for the high numbers, she says work stress also adds to the problem.
Dr Murali Raj, head of the Department of Psychiatry in Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, says lack of bonding between couples is one of the reasons why men are depressed. “I have seen many cases of IT and BPO professionals where lack of quality time between couples often drives the man to despair. Marriage is often not a deep commitment… And both the man and wife work so hard during the week they are too tired during weekends.”
He says he has also seen cases of men dejected because of dowry harassment and a minority of cases of men who have sexual problems.
Several groups to protect men’s rights have sprung up in the City and they opine that the Indian laws favour women leaving men in a very disadvantageous position in legal issues.