Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 years old in the UK. Let that sink in for a second.
In 2013, over 4,000 of a total 5,140 suicides were male. Nearly 80%.
For every female who commits suicide, there are four males who do, but the numbers aren’t going down…
“The ratio of male to female suicide shows a sustained rise over the last 30 years. In 1981 men accounted for 62 per cent of suicides, this rose to 70 per cent by 1988, 75 per cent by 1995, and 77 per cent in 2012, to 78 per cent last year” (CALM, 2013).
The statistics are worrying, and aren’t even slowing down. So what the hell can be done about it?
The Lions Barber Collective is a group of professional barbers from England, Ireland and Holland who are trying to help prevent it. How? They want to talk. It’s widely known that people are often likely to confide in bartenders, salon workers and barbers more than their friends or family. It’s not a bad thing, but it does raise the idea that perhaps these guys should know what to do when dealing with vulnerable members of the public.
This particular group has begun working in partnership with #BarberTalk and Papyrus (suicide prevention). Their general work, in conjunction with BarberTalk involves raising awareness, and training. The training aims to have barbers recognising, talking, listening and advising their customers. Here they’ve realised their relationship with the men they work with, and the trust that already exists, and are putting it to good use!
Through a variety of public projects, demonstrations and merchandising (you might even have seen these badass t-shirts before), the charity is able to spread the training, knowledge, and most importantly, the awareness. It may seem like a little change, but being able to actually tell someone what’s going on in your life, or how you’re feeling can make the world of difference. For men who frequent the barber multiple times a year, it can become a chance either to get a few things off your chest, or simply be distracted from any problems long enough to have a nice chat.
Founded by Tom Chapman, the organisation is still very young, and really deserves the chance to grow and become a household name. Having lost a friend to suicide himself, Chapman felt the need for a safe and open environment where men were free to express themselves, and be listened to if they were feeling depressed or suicidal. The work they have done in such a short space of time has already saved lives, and as Chapman says in the interview below, if they can shave off just 1% of the suicides, it’s still lives being saved.
I emailed Lions Barber Collective and received a joyous reply from Tom Chapman who wanted to pass on the main goals of the collective; “to destroy the stigma around mental health and suicide, and through the BarberTalk program to train barbers to recognise the signs of mental health, the skill of non-judgemental listening, and signposting”.
It seems like a small ask that could save lives.
You can like them on Facebook to keep up to date with their events and partnerships here: https://www.facebook.com/TheLionsBarberCollective
Or check out their website instead for more information and merchandise: http://www.thelionsbarbercollective.com/
All photos courtesy of The Lions Barber Collective
Words by Briony Brake