I am sometimes apprehensive when it comes to writing about issues that haven’t affected me directly, often feeling somewhat ‘unqualified’ to talk about them in detail. However, I was truly struck this week when I saw ITVs involvement in the #project84 campaign, and I felt that it is something that should definitely be discussed.
I am fortunate to have not been affected by suicide, however myself, and many others that I know, have observed mental health issues in males close to us- whether it be a family member, a friend or a loved one. I have also observed that without a doubt, mental health problems and suicide in males remains to be a neglected and uncomfortable issue in society. I myself admit that despite knowing that it was a big problem, I was shockingly unaware of the harrowing statistics revealed by the charity CALM: that 84 males take their own life in the UK each week. The heartbreaking reality that every two hours, a man in the UK takes his own life, is certainly hard to swallow, and it was made all the more shocking by Mark Jenkins’s startlingly real portrayal of the statistics.
The charity CALM, partnered up with artist Mark Jenkins and his collaborator Sandra Fernandez to create the eerie collection of statues that stood high on top of the ITV studios. With each of the 84 statues representing a real male who committed suicide, families of the deceased worked with the artists to make each statue an individual portrayal of the life lost. This personalisation of the sculptures is something that makes the campaign all the more powerful. Towering high above the ground, they make a poignant statement, that truly captured everyones attention, reigniting this immensely important discussion.
Like many others, this campaign really stopped me in my tracks, and has been on my mind ever since I first discovered it. The prospect of suffering so greatly, yet feeling unable to, or unworthy of seeking help is awful for anyone, regardless of gender and its supposed personality conventions.
I think #project84 is such an amazing campaign for an extremely worthy cause and I commend all those who were involved with it. Discussions about mental health are becoming increasingly open and with suicide being the single biggest killer of UK men under 45, we simply cannot let male mental health get left behind. Now is the time to stop pushing the destructive ‘macho’ mentality, and telling people to simply ‘man up’ when facing problems. It is crucially important that you talk to your friends and family, or anyone close to you that you are worried about, and let them know that there are multiple platforms for support should they need it. Only by making the subject more approachable, can we finally pave the way to a brighter future.
For more information on the campaign you can visit the CALM website, and if you want to join #project84 then you can sign up there easily with just your name and email.
It’s time to talk. #project84