The new Kent campaign “Release the Pressure” – which aims to reduce the number of suicides by encouraging men feeling under pressure to seek help – has seen a 20 per cent increase in male callers to a special helpline.
The highly visual campaign was developed and launched by Kent County Council in a bid to address figures which show suicide is the leading killer of men under 45.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week which is exploring the theme of relationships, health experts are reminding residents of the helpline as research shows that less than a fifth of people who took their life in Kent were known to secondary mental health services and men are less likely to ask for help from friends, family or mental health services than women.
The helpline support is free and confidential, provided by an independent charity Mental Health Matters (MHM) and funded by Kent County Council. Alan Heyes from MHM said: “The campaign clearly resonated and we saw an increase in calls with people making comments that talking made them feel ‘light’ and ‘less panicked’ with one person saying that getting the helpline number was the ‘best thing that had happened’ to them. Our 24/7 helpline is staffed by experienced counsellors who are there to provide you with a confidential, non-judgemental listening support service. You don’t have to go through this alone.”
One caller was quoted as saying: “I am in my 60’s and never felt so low in all my life. I cannot talk to my family, I feel weak and pathetic. They look up to me, I sort their problems out; I am the man of the house. It is so much easier to talk to you, I can’t see you and you can’t see me. You have no idea how much it helps just to talk and not be told to cheer up. Thank you.”
In 2014, there were 163 registered suicides of which 128 (79%) were men. The rate of suicide in the county is also higher than the national average.*
MHM Telephone Support Worker, Victoria reports: “I have taken many calls from men who have seen the campaign; it has targeted an age group of men who normally find it difficult to seek help, support and talk to anyone. The difference it has made to many is immense – feeling more confident and opening up to me each time they call. I believe that this campaign is going from strength to strength and we are getting more calls daily from men seeking support. It is rewarding to support people who would normally keep these issues to themselves.”
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “Given that the majority of these men are not in contact with mental health services before they take their own lives, they are a very difficult group to reach through traditional interventions. We are pleased that people have been using the helpline and hope that the impact of the campaign continues to go much deeper given how long-term and difficult the issue can be.
“We will continue to encourage anyone who is feeling the pressure at the moment to talk to someone. We also urge friends and family of people who may be going through a rough patch, to point them in the direction of crucial support which could prevent them harming themselves.”
The “Release the Pressure” campaign will continue to be displayed at key sites across the county and will be promoted on social media, urging people to seek help by calling 0800 107 0160 where support is available from trained and experienced staff on this freephone number, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. There is also a website for more details and case studies of men from Kent who have turned their lives around after attempting suicide www.releasethepressure.uk
*Source – Kent Public Health Observatory and Public Health England http://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile-group/mental-health/profile/suicide
The rate of suicide (both sexes) in Kent is higher than the national average (10.2 per 100,000 compared to 8.9 per 100,000 2012-2014 pooled data).
The suicide rate for males in Kent (2012-2014) is 16.5 deaths per 100,000 people. Nationally, the rate is 14.1 per 100,000 for men. For females in Kent (2012-2014), it is 4.1 deaths per 100,000 compared to 4.0 nationally.
Note to newsdesks:
The Samaritans have issued guidance to media organisations about reporting suicides