It's a horrible word. It sends shivers down your spine and brings up barriers in most people. It is the single biggest killer of under 45's in the UK. A staggering 80% of them are men. Statistics show that somebody takes their life every 120 minutes in the UK.
With this being such a huge issue, why do we feel that we can't speak about it, and the mental health conditions that link to it?
I lost my dad to suicide when I was 15. I haven't felt comfortable to speak out until now... until the Lions Barber Collective came about. I'm a blogger and journalist; I write for Barber NV magazine and review a range of shops and products on my blog thatlittlebarbershop.com. When I heard that barbers were raising awareness of suicide, I knew I had to link my loss with my passion of writing and get involved, but I didn't know how involved I would get, or how big this project would become.
It started slow, I was asked to film a short vlog explaining my loss and why I (a non-barber) will be on board with a group of barbers. That video had 14 k views in 7 days... It showed me that speaking out not only helps me, but will help others that have lost, or are going through depression themselves. The LBC founders and #BarberTalk Directors; Tom Chapman and Pat Barry, have embraced me and brought me on board as Press Director. Together we are developing training that has never been seen before.
The truth is that men will speak to their barbers about things they wouldn't tell anybody else. The #BarberTalk program is being developed alongside top charities Papyrus and Pieta House to train barbers how to Recognise, Talk, Listen and Advise their clients. With this, comes the responsibility to remain confidential, provide a safe haven for clients and help them where necessary.
Firstly, we are raising awareness by producing a 'Look Book'. Each member of the Lions' artistic team has submitted images to fill a page in the book, and each page is sponsored by a brand or company. This sponsorship, along with the sales of the book will not only help our partner charities, but allow us to make a start with the #BarberTalk training. The artistic team includes barbers from the UK, Ireland and Holland, with the book being distributed by the largest industry supplier to barber shops in the UK.
The Lions have already seen support from Jonny Benjamin, Exeter United Football Club, Marcia Richards (from the UK Reggae Band 'The Skints'), The Daily Telegraph and TNA Wrestler Eddie Edwards, to name a few.
Talking about suicide does not make it more likely to happen. By breaking the taboo and allowing conversation, we could save a life. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), have recently had a nationwide campaign alongside Lynx, attempting to share the same message. This, along with a debate in parliament on mental health and numerous television documentaries regarding suicide and mental health, shows that society is slowly accepting the conversation.
So, why not "Man Up" and talk to your barber. If we are to make a serious difference, we need to embrace the very thing that for so long has been considered a taboo topic. After all, if we don't talk, how can we lift the weight of the taboo off the shoulders of those that need to be listened to the most?