As Coronation Street highlights the story of a male suicide in its programmes this week, Kent residents are being reminded of a 24/7 freephone helpline as part of its ‘Release the Pressure’ campaign.
The tragic plot has followed Aidan Connor’s changing behaviour over the past few months which includes financial and relationship issues before culminating in him taking his own life, leaving his family devastated.
The highly visual Kent County Council awareness campaign ‘Release the Pressure’, which aims to reduce the number of suicides by encouraging men feeling under pressure to seek help, was launched in 2016 after figures revealed suicide is the leading killer of men under 45.
Since the campaign launched, there has been an 82 per cent increase in the number of male callers to the special helpline with almost 600 male callers per month. The helpline support is free and confidential, provided by an independent charity Mental Health Matters (MHM) and funded by KCC.
Work continues with Kent’s health partners and providers as part of the multi-agency suicide prevention strategy. This has included six months of training with 47 workshops which have seen over 800 frontline staff from the private and public sectors, charities and voluntary roles, increasing their knowledge of the resources available, how to spot signs and prompt conversations with people who may need help.
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark welcomed the soap opera tackling such a difficult subject: “The plot is exploring the theme of relationships and follows research which shows that less than a fifth of people who took their life were known to secondary mental health services – men are less likely to ask for help from friends, family or mental health services than women
“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 was developed after research with focus groups explored the pressures that men are under and in-depth interviews with individual men who shared their experiences and feelings that led them to contemplate suicide.
The campaign urges people to seek help by calling Freephone 0800 107 0160 where support is available from trained and experienced staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The campaign website www.releasethepressure.uk also includes case studies from men in Kent who have turned their lives around after attempting suicide.