Barbadian male: an endangered species says doctor

The Barbadian male is an endangered species, prone to engage in risky lifestyles and more efficient than women at taking their own lives because of the way they were brought up, according to a leading family health practitioner.

Dr. Henrick Ellis told an Anglican Men’s Association panel discussion Tuesday night that men were already at a natural disadvantage because there were fewer males born, and women naturally outlive men.

However, Dr. Ellis said because of the way Barbadian and Caribbean boys were raised, their lives were more likely to be cut short at an earlier age than females.

“Boys are told whenever they are punished, take it like a man; stop crying like a sissy. And so boys learn to hold in emotion. So they grow up with the macho attitude –– if I have pain I must not show it if I’m sick I don’t go to the doctor,” he said in his presentation at the Barbados Workers Union Hugh Springer auditorium.

He cited as an example, the reaction of the typical Barbadian male to chest pain, saying the man was likely to take a drink of brandy –– having self-diagnosed the unease as either a cold or gas build up –– the result of which is often deadly.   

Dr. Ellis explained that men in their early 30s through to their mid-50s were six times more likely to suffer heart attacks than women of the same age, although the probabilities even out around age 55.

The situation is even more acute, he said, as the males were dying at an even younger age from heart disease.

“Between the ages of 33 and 55, six men to one woman collapse and die from heart attack.

“Maybe we’re seeing it a little different in the last couple years in Barbados where they’re dying in their 20s,” Dr. Ellis told the audience.

“Women don’t usually collapse and die from heart attack until maybe after [the age of] 55 because women are protected by their female hormones. Men don’t have that same protection.”

But perhaps one of the most troubling threats facing the Barbadian male is himself, the family doctor said.

Dr. Ellis explained that men here do not help themselves when they fail to do health checks, behave recklessly on the roads and engage in behavior that is likely to result in an early death.

“Apart from the heart attacks I talked about, there are more men dying from car accidents, from the effects of alcohol, smoking, AIDS, and the list is long,” he said, “so in a way, men are an endangered species.”

First Published Barbados Today

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