Suicide statistics may have reached a six-year low, but now is not the time to take suicide and mental health awareness off the agenda.
Men still account for three quarters of all people who die from suicide in the UK each year, with 4,287 men taking their own lives in 2016 compared to 1,381 women.
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, men’s health charity the Movember Foundation has created a new set of videos designed to help reduce these figures further.
The ‘Unmute – Ask Him’ campaign highlights that many men still feel the need to hide their feelings and are therefore not accessing the mental health support that they need.
The charity hopes to encourage open conversations around men’s mental health, by reminding friends and family to ask men how they are feeling, rather than assuming everything is okay.
The videos are disguised as a series of “how to” tutorials, where a man takes the viewer through simple tasks, such as “how to make a soda can fishing rod”, and “how to fix a flat tyre”.
Each video demonstrates the importance of taking the initiative to ask men how they are doing.
While the video subtitles appear to mirror the men’s actions, when the viewer unmutes the video, they’ll hear a completely different story – about men who are beginning to show signs they are struggling.
“Our research has shown that a majority of men say they are there for their friends when they need support, yet considerably fewer men are prepared to go to someone when they’re struggling themselves, bringing to life the need for those around men to take themselves off ‘mute’ and start the conversation,” Craig Martin, global director of mental health and suicide prevention at the Movember Foundation, said.
“As part of our strategic vision to support men and boys being mentally healthy and taking action during tough times, backed by their friends, family and community, Movember is building capacity around men, to ensure more men talk and feel the benefits of being heard.
“The network around men currently do not reach out enough to ask how guys are really going. We can all play a part in reducing the rate of male suicide by sparking a potentially life-changing conversation – the simple first step is just to ask and listen.”
Joe, a 28-year-old who was discharged from his military career due to mental health issues, is supporting the campaign.
“I’ve suffered with depression for five years but it doesn’t define me. Now I want to help others who are fighting the same demons,” he said.
“For the past five years I’ve been on a hard journey with my own mental health, resulting in my medical discharge from the military. The reason I’m so open about it is because I want to help those who are going through the same problems and fighting similar demons as I have.
“People wouldn’t think twice about approaching the subject of say a broken leg with someone and it should be no different for someone who has a mental health issue, once people can get past that hurdle of not knowing what to say to someone, the sooner the stigma towards mental health will be lifted.
“It is ok to ask if someone is ok, just to know someone is thinking about you can make a world of difference.”
As well as encouraging people to share the campaign videos on social media, Movember also wants people to start conversations with men they care about in just four simple steps:
Ask how they are doing
Listen without judgement
Check in regularly
You can find out more information about the campaign on the Movember Foundation website.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org