Each year in the UK and Republic of Ireland over 5,000 men take their own lives.
A lot of men get to the point where they feel so trapped by the dark side of their inner experiences that taking their own lives seems the right thing to do.
Men are natural problem-solvers and often value strength and independence over social and emotional skills. They are reluctant to burden people close to them and can feel ashamed and struggle to ask for help. So when the hurt from what men are feeling becomes too much for their usual ways of coping, taking their own lives can seem a resourceful solution to a painful problem.
We want to change this.
We will create a grass-roots culture change that shifts the attitudes, habits and social customs that lead some men to regard taking their own life as the only solution to their suffering.
Too much of what men experience on the inside is considered shameful, kept secret and ignored. We must change how all of us think about and respond to men’s inner experiences so that the darker aspects can be accepted, brought into the light and addressed.
To do this we believe we need to enrol as our allies the friends, families and colleagues of men at risk. We need to work in ways that flow with men’s natural strengths, not against them. And we must not consider men wrong for wanting to solve their pain.
We will ask people to unite with us to change how we all think about men. Initially just open acceptance that men are not always strong and are sometimes in a great deal of pain – and that this does not make them less of a man. We believe this open acceptance from those around them will disperse much of the shame that stops men from seeking help.
We will ask people to unite with us to change how we all respond to men.
First, a Watch strategy where we will help people to keep a judgement-free watch over our men’s emotional condition at work and at home. Second, a strategy where we will inspire men to Wait, so that they can begin to believe in solutions and ways of coping other than taking their own lives.
As our understanding develops, we intend to trial other respectful interventions aimed at building on the healthy ways men cope with stress and worry. These will boost emotional intelligence levels to create a greater range of choices and behaviours for men at risk.