In a novel campaign to reach young men who may have thoughts of taking their own lives, Pieta, the suicide prevention agency, has linked up with Sam's Barbers to launch a "Signs of Suicide" campaign. The campaign launches today on Blue Monday, the third Monday in January and described as the most depressing day of the year.
With overall suicide rates for men in Ireland three times higher than for women, and with 60 per cent of Pieta's clients under 25 years of age, the agency has teamed up with Sam's Barbers to encourage customers and people to "swap the small talk for the big talk".
Sam Donnelly, owner of Sam's Barber's, said: "we have young lads come in here and they really do open-up and talk to us, sometimes they talk to us more than they talk to their friends or the girlfriends. It's almost like the chair is a safe space."
Mr Donnelly felt it was “really important that people understand that there are signs of suicide and to know what to do if you recognise these in a loved one. Pieta is a fantastic organisation and I fully support the work that they do.
“If I can play a small part in helping someone or raising awareness of the ‘signs’ so that someone recognises something in a friend or family member, then I will be extremely happy.”
The signs to look out for, according to Pieta, include sleep disturbance, isolate, giving away possessions, no interest in anything, speaking of no future and even speaking about the “Signs of Suicide” campaign.
Leigh Kenny, regional manager and therapist with Pieta, said that "January can be a particularly difficult time of the year for people struggling with their mental health but these struggles aren't limited to a month or day of the year."
He continued, however, that it was “a great opportunity to highlight that it’s okay not to feel okay sometimes and the best thing you can do is talk about your feelings, whether that be with your family, friends or even your barber”.
If a person thinks “someone you know is struggling then follow the three simple steps of A P R – Ask, Persuade, and Refer. “At Pieta we have trained professionals waiting to help,” he said.
Singer/song writer Aaron J Hart, who is supporting the Signs of Suicide campaign, said that "anyone who knows my music will know that I've been through my own struggles. I know how difficult it is and how taking that first step is the hardest".
He said “it can be very difficult to speak to your family or friends about your struggles but that’s exactly what we need to do, we need to talk more and be open about our feelings and the hard times. Nobody can read minds, but Pieta’s Signs of Suicide really does help you to identify whether your friends may be struggling.
“If you suspect they are struggling reach out, make the first move – you never know, you could save a life.”
In such cases people are encouraged to call Pieta’s Crisis Helpline at 1800 247 2474, or Text HELP to 51444, is open 24 hours day, every day, and all services are provided free with no referral needed.