Press release: Samaritans reaches out to men on the ropes

Samaritans reaches out to men on the ropes

Campaign launched for World Suicide Prevention Day

SAMARITANS today launches a hard-hitting campaign to combat suicide amongst men. Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women.

The advertising campaign, Men on the Ropes, aims to reduce the more than 4,000 male suicides that happen each year by persuading men in distress to talk about their problems and consider calling Samaritans’ 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, including those on the railway. Network Rail is backing the campaign as part of its five-year partnership with Samaritans to reduce railway suicides by 20 per cent.

In-depth interviews commissioned by Samaritans1 amongst men of this background 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.
    Rachel Kirby-Rider, Samaritans’ Director of Communications, 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 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.”

Welsh International rugby union referee, Nigel Owens, who tried to take his own life, said: “Men from my town would just get on with things, you weren’t even aware men had problems. My depression started because I didn’t like who I was and I was too ashamed to talk to anyone. I let these feelings build up and up, and before I knew it I couldn’t see a reason to live anymore, which is why I tried to take my own life.

“Looking back there were people I could have and should have turned to. I think that if I had been able to talk to someone that day, I might not have attempted suicide. Today, I can’t even find the words to explain how thankful I am that I am still here. That’s why this campaign is so important; because it has the power to make men aware help is available and that they should use it.”

For more information about the campaign or the work of Samaritans please contact Sal Lalji, Media Relations Manager, on or call 020 8394 8342.

The online press pack can be accessed here


Notes to editors

  1. Research commissioned by Samaritans, conducted by Volante Research, was carried out in Middlesbrough, Glasgow, Romford, and Solihul from May – July 2010.

Network Rail has funded the development of the campaign and will be supporting it by providing advertising space in stations across Great Britain. In January 2010, Samaritans and Network Rail launched a five-year partnership to reduce suicides on the railways by 20 per cent. For more information please see the original press release.


About Samaritans

For people experiencing emotional distress and struggling to cope, our volunteers are there 24/7 to offer confidential, non-judgmental support to anyone experiencing emotional distress and suicidal feelings, by phone: 116 123, email:, or face-to-face: visit for details of your local branch.


About Network Rail

Network Rail is the 'not for dividend' owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, which includes the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations - the largest of which we also manage. We aim to provide a safe, reliable and efficient rail infrastructure for freight and passenger trains to use. Our website:


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.