Men on the ropes campaign 2010- about the campaign

Men and suicide

Around 6,000 people in the UK take their own lives every year and three-quarters of them are men.

Of these, the men most likely to die by suicide are those aged 25-55.

Samaritans are now launching a five-year campaign to get all men talking about their feelings. The aim is to get them to consider that calling Samaritans’ 24/7 confidential helpline could be an option for them.

Equally, though, we believe that talking to anyone – family, friends, colleagues, health professionals – is better than bottling things up.

Samaritans research

Our research into this target group also found that men from poorer backgrounds, those who are unemployed or in manual jobs, and those who have experienced difficult times such as financial worries or breakdowns in their family relationships were more likely to take their own lives.

Understanding our audience

To find out more about these men and what sort of campaign would appeal to them, we commissioned research in Glasgow, Middlesborough, Romford and Solihull, and spoke in great detail to a sample group of men about their lives and the daily challenges they face:

  • We found they do not habitually discuss their emotions in public and certainly not with their friends. If they talk to anyone about their problems it is either with their partner or a healthcare professional.
  • Many we spoke to were, unsurprisingly, long-term depressed due to extended periods of unemployment, family break-down, drug and gambling problems, and a sense that things would not get any better.
  • Whilst they often described times in their lives when they had been very violent and angry men, many now seemed to have a quiet acceptance of their situation, with their children (and sometimes their partners) being the only thing that kept them going.
  • Many describe what they feel to be somewhat ‘emasculated’lives: unable to find work, dependent upon their partner’s income,‘reduced’ to being a househusband. Over their lives, most have had experience of being regularly laid-off and of frequently changing jobs and employer.
  • And many openly acknowledged that there was a sense in their neighbourhood that a man talking about his problems would be seen as ‘weak’.

We tested a variety of images on this group but the one that really stood out for them was that of a boxer, who they could relate to but still saw as someone they could aspire to.

The research into the adverts amongst the target audience moved the image of Samaritans on from being purely a 'suicide line' to a broader helpline that is there for people who have no one else to talk to and are desperate.

The adverts conveyed a simple and down-to-earth message while the image of a boxer conveyed strength, wisdom, and life experience that the target audience could relate to.