Last week Professor Green’s documentary ‘Suicide and Me’ aired on BBC3, once again highlighting the fact that the most common cause of death in men under the age of 45 is suicide. Professor Green aka Stephen Manderson , whose father took his own life seven years ago, spent the documentary exploring the reasons behind his personal family tragedy and delving into why so many young men are dying in such circumstances.
What Manderson found from interviewing his family members was that not even those closest to his father were aware of the fact he was suffering from depression. Manderson also discussed his own anxiety issues which caused him to take a lot of time off school, repeatedly attending for GP appointments for physical ailments, unable to articulate the way that he was feeling. The bigger message of the programme was that young men, perhaps more so than other groups, find it difficult to seek help for mental health issues even from close friends and family members.
Manderson is a patron of mental health charity CALM which recently released figures showing that three quarters of suicides in the UK are by men with around 12 males taking their own lives every day. Jane Powell, chief executive of CALM, commented that suicide prevention in this country is ‘gender blind’ as said claimed that more needs to be done to target the message to men.
On 1 November CALM launched the #BiggerIssues campaign which aims to highlight the prevalence of male suicide in this country. The social media campaign will up date every two hours to highlight the fact that in the UK one man will take his life around every 120 minutes.
It is hoped that by pushing this little discussed issue into the public consciousness, young men will feel more confident about speaking out about their problems and share any suicidal thoughts before it is too late. The campaign also wants to educate the wider public about the issue and to encourage compassionate responses to men expressing themselves and sharing their feelings.
CALM’s campaign is in its early stages and it may be some time until its effects are felt. It is be hoped that it will be the first step in addressing what has become an issue which is fast spiralling out of control.
The author of this article is Rebecca Treece who is part of the civil liberties team at Lester Morrill.