Press release: Samaritans reaches out to men on the ropes

Samaritans reaches out to men on the ropes in Northern Ireland.

Campaign launched for World Suicide Prevention Day

SAMARITANS in Northern Ireland has launched a hard-hitting campaign to combat suicide amongst men. The advertising campaign, which will break across the province on November 1st, aims to reduce the more than 200 male suicides that happen in Northern Ireland each year by persuading men in distress to talk about their problems and consider calling Samaritans’ 24/7 confidential helpline.

With its boxing theme, the campaign specifically targets working-class men in their 30s, 40s and 50s, who are the most likely of all to die by suicide.

Suzanne Costello, Director for Samaritans in Ireland said: “We believe that many men don’t feel able to talk about their feelings and instead, either bottle them up or let them spiral out of control, sometimes with tragic consequences. The main aim of the campaign in Northern Ireland therefore, is to make calling Samaritans’ 24/7 confidential helpline an option for them.

“Equally, we believe that talking to anyone – family, friends, colleagues, health professionals - is better than suffering in silence and we hope that the campaign will also help men feel that they are able to express their emotions in today’s society”.

As part of its work in developing the new campaign, Samaritans commissioned in-depth interviews among the target group - working-class men in the 30 to 50 age-group – and found that:

  • most acknowledged that they do not discuss their emotions with friends or colleagues because this would be seen as ‘weak’,
  • some were or had been long-term depressed due to extended periods of unemployment, family break-down, and/or drug and gambling problems, and they thought things would not get any better;
  • many of those in their 40s and 50s described times in their lives when they had been violent and angry, but they now quietly accepted their situation, with their children (and sometimes their partners) being the only thing that kept them going;
  • those who are unable to find work and are dependent upon their partner’s income, feel ‘emasculated’ and ‘reduced’ to being a househusband;
  • when trying to help friends who had problems, many felt that they lacked the skills to get their friends to talk or to help them.

Cathal McMonagle, 30 Irish heavy weight champion said: “Like most men my age, I’ve always struggled with talking about any problems I have for fear of being seen as weak or unable to cope.  The reality is that keeping all these feelings inside just eats at you and makes everything seem worse.  Everybody gets down from time to time. Boxing and exercise has always been a good release for me but talking about your problems is even more effective.  I hope that this campaign will help show that we all experience difficulties in life but support is only a phone call away and asking for help doesn’t mean you are not strong.”

John Duddy, Irish middleweight professional champion added:  “I think we men have a big issue with sharing our problems and opening up to others to help find solutions. I really hope that this campaign can encourage men to make that call. Samaritans have been crucial in helping people talk about their problems over many years. I am very thankful to all the members of Samaritans Northern Ireland who work tirelessly to ensure that there is always someone there to talk to. We all have problems but it's comforting to know that someone is there to listen and help”.

Contributing to the funding for advertising space in the province M.W. Bro. George Dunlop Grand Master of The Free Masons of Ireland commented: “I am delighted that Samaritans are benefitting from our generosity and support. We wish them every success with this new campaign. We hope that our charitable acts reap a good harvest and that the incidence of disastrous events such as suicide will reduce significantly as a result of the tremendous work of Samaritans.”

Samaritans has 8 branches throughout Northern Ireland which can be contacted in confidence, 24 hours a day on 116 123, by email:, or face-to-face: visit for details of your local branch.


For further information on the above release or to arrange an interview please contact:
Anita Cooley, RedRevolution 07540  929 885

Notes to Editor

Research Commissioned by Samaritans, conducted by Volante Research, was carried out from May – July 2010

About Samaritans

For people experiencing emotional distress and struggling to cope, Samaritans’ volunteers are there 24/7 to offer confidential, non-judgmental support to anyone experiencing emotional distress and suicidal feelings.

More information

These press materials form part of the 'Men on the Ropes' campaign from Samaritans 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.