A new survey commissioned by Samaritans released today (19 March) shows that there is still a stigma around men seeking help when they are struggling to cope.
Two in five (41%) men in England, Scotland and Wales aged 20-59 do not seek support when they need to, because they prefer to solve their own problems. The survey also showed that men often don’t want to feel like a burden and don’t feel their problems will be understood.
Samaritans is launching a campaign, supported by National Rail, called Real People, Real Stories. The campaign sees men who have overcome tough times share their stories to encourage men, who are most at risk of suicide, to seek help by contacting Samaritans 24/7 free on 116 123 or Samaritans.org.
Paul McDonald, Executive Director of External Affairs at Samaritans, said: “We didn’t want to create just another awareness campaign. We wanted something authentic and emotive from men who have been through tough times, sharing their really powerful, positive and hopeful stories to encourage other men to seek help before they reach crisis point.”
“Our survey results found that although 78% of men aged 20-59 say it’s okay to admit you’re not feeling okay, many still avoid speaking out when they’re finding life tough. A quarter (25%) felt their problems weren’t important enough to warrant calling a helpline, which is one of the reasons this awareness campaign is so important.”
Tony Robertson, 38, suffered from undiagnosed depression for most of his life. Tony struggled to cope when he lost his job, his home and partner, and attempted to take his own life. “I was in my hospital bed the morning after and I saw my mum sat there upset, and something clicked. I started talking to my mum about how I was feeling. I think having that human connection really does bring that home. Talking really can save lives.”
I hope by sharing my story as part of the campaign, it will encourage other men to speak up and seek help before getting to the stage that I got to.
The survey found that some of the main reasons why these men find life tough and struggle include debt or financial worries (36%), relationship breakdown or family problems (30%), loneliness or isolation (29%) and job loss or job-related problems (25%).
Ollie Mehra, 23, has suffered from anxiety and depression since he was fifteen. When his relationship ended, he described it as “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. He began to have suicidal thoughts. “When I told my friends how I was feeling, four of them said: ‘Mate, so have I. I know how you feel.’ Instantly I thought to myself, right, I’m not the only one. It isn’t a weird thing. I should have got help sooner, we all should have talked about it sooner.”
Almost 3 in 10 (29%) of the men surveyed said loneliness and isolation had made them feel low in the past, Paul explains; “At Samaritans we understand the value of talking and the power of human connection. Just two people talking can really help that person to stop, breathe and start to see a way through their problems. Samaritans gives people the space to be themselves. We won’t judge or tell you what to do, we’re here to listen.”
Darran Latham, 38, shares his story, “It was pretty difficult the first time I rang Samaritans. I was homeless by that point and I’d been put in some emergency shelter. I was drinking quite heavily. I’d had suicide attempts in the past, but it was usually when I was drunk. One morning I woke up and I didn’t have that to hide behind. I didn’t want to not be there. That’s when I reached out and called Samaritans. And I’m really glad I did.”
Ex-Premier League footballer and professional boxer, Leon McKenzie is supporting the campaign, sharing his story to help encourage other men to seek help. “I know how tough it gets when you’re in that dark place. I’ve been there, not wanting to exist anymore. By sharing my story and supporting the campaign, I hope other men understand that you can climb back up with some help.”
It’s so important to seek help early on and Samaritans are here to listen.
There will be more than fifty local events in England, Wales and Scotland to help promote the campaign.
Find out more about Real People, Real Stories at: http://www.samaritans.org/realpeoplerealstories, where you will find real stories from real men who have been through tough times. You can also support by following the campaign @samaritanscharity on Instagram or sharing the video on Twitter @samaritans or Facebook at www.facebook.com/samaritanscharity, using the hashtag #RealPeopleRealStories.
For more information please call the Samaritans Media Team on 020 8394 8300 or email [email protected]
Notes to Editors
- The online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 3,000, 18+ years old men in UK, of which 2,040 were men aged 20-59 from England, Scotland and Wales. The research fieldwork took place between 28 February- 6 March 2019. The survey carries an error rate of +/-2% at a 95% confidence level. The dataset was weighted to ensure national representation by age and region. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code.
- Suicide is a complex issue resulting from a wide range of psychological, social, economic and cultural risk factors which interact and increase an individual’s level of risk.
- In the UK men remain three times as likely to take their own lives than women. In 2017, the male suicide rate was more than three times higher than the female rate. Middle aged men are at greatest risk of suicide. Looking at broad age groups men aged 45-59 years have the highest rate of suicide, followed by men aged 30-44. For further information see Samaritans Report Men and Suicide: Why it’s a social issue report
- Suicide is not equal – Men in the lowest social class, living in the most deprived areas, are up to ten times more at risk of suicide than those in the highest social class, living in the most affluent areas.
- Due to the link between certain types of media reporting and increases in suicide rates, please note Samaritans’ Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide and Rail Suicide factsheet.
- Real People, Real Stories is supported by National Rail as part of an overall programme of activity.
- Find out more at: https://www.samaritans.org/corporate/rail-industry-suicide-prevention-programme
- Information and support for those struggling to cope can be found at Samaritans.org:
- Anyone can contact Samaritans for free in confidence any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or email [email protected] or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch where you can talk to one of their trained volunteers face to face.
 ONS. (2018). Suicides in the United Kingdom, 2017 registrations. United Kingdom: Office for National Statistics.
2 Platt S, Bambra C, Cairns J, Chandler A, Heins E, Kirtley O, et al. Socioeconomic disadvantage and suicidal behaviour. Research report. Surrey, United Kingdom: Samaritans; 2017