Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and to be honest I wouldn’t blame you given the state of things), you’ll know that today is World Mental Health Day. I struggle with these “days” a little as you see such an outpouring of support that soon disappears for the other 364 days of the year. Nevertheless it puts mental health in everyone’s faces which undoubtedly helps some of those people struggling access support that may not have done otherwise, so that can only be a good thing.
The theme of this year’s event is suicide and suicide prevention. Every year close to 800,000 people globally take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. It’s the leading cause of death among young people aged 20 to 34 in the UK and it is considerably higher in men, with around three times as many men dying as a result of suicide compared to women.
This has long been a statistic that I find utterly heartbreaking – maybe more so because I have brothers and have seen first hand the difference in how they express their emotions and how differently they are treated in terms of being able to share their emotions purely because they are men. It scares me that there are still such fundamental differences in how we expect men to behave as opposed to women when it comes to matters of the head and heart, the expectation we put on them and how we react when they do talk about things, if they ever do of course.
It should be no more unusual for a guy to speak to his friends over a pint and talk about feeling down or sad than it is for women, but we all know it’s vastly different. It’s getting better for sure, but the statistics still speak for themselves – there’s a huge issue that we aren’t getting to the root of. Of course it’s a complex problem and someone taking their own life is often a result of accumulating factors, circumstances and experiences but the fact it’s so much more prevalent in men is not something we can afford to ignore or something that we can continue to merely acknowledge without actually doing something to help.
In a couple of weeks I’m taking part in CALM’s Lost Hours Walk (20 miles around the streets of London) to support the work the charity do in leading a movement against suicide that shockingly causes 18 deaths every single day in the UK. It’s a charity that I have supported before and one which I believe are doing crucial and relevant work in helping men in particular. They level with men and speak their language and importantly make support and information accessible through various campaigns and partnerships. They don’t just sit and wait for people to come to them they go out there and actively engage with the most high risk areas of society. They’re a bit sweary at times, a bit tongue in cheek and I think this approach to something so utterly devastating as suicide is the best way – people are quite literally dying so there’s no time for niceties and fluffy language, and that’s why I have chosen to support them again.
Over the past few years I have personally seen the crushing effect suicide and attempted suicide can have on individuals and those left behind. It feels like an impossible situation; not knowing what to say, what to do or how to help someone you love who no longer wants to be here is quite possibly the hardest thing you’ll ever go through and of course for the person feeling that way it is equally impossible, all hope lost. But it can be turned around and people can get support and get through it, but only if the support is available, which sadly it isn’t readily for everyone. And that’s also where CALM come in with their helpline for anyone who needs help or is in a crisis.
Sadly it’s too late for some; we all know of many incredible and kind people who have been lost to suicide and it sometimes feels like it’s happening more and more, but we must not lose hope that something can be done, and with charities like CALM helping lead the charge we have to hope that one day those statistics will reduce.
Whilst money isn’t necessarily the answer, it can help by providing more support and I hope the small amount I am able to raise will help a little in some way.
So now for the begging bit; I NEED YOUR MONEY. If you can spare anything I would be most grateful and to be honest a few quid for a mental health charity is going to help someone a lot more this World Mental Health Day than liking someone’s ‘You’re not alone’ post on Instagram now isn’t it? Here’s my page. Thank you in advance.