THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST LIVING MISERABLY, or CALM, is a registered charity, which exists to prevent male suicide in the UK. In 2013, male suicide accounted for 78% of all suicides and is the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20 – 45 in England and Wales.
Let that sink in for a bit.
Two years ago, SUICIDE was the single biggest cause of death in young men in the UK. No cancer. Not heart disease. Not drugs or alcohol or tobacco. Suicide.
How extraordinary is that statistic?
The Samaritans gives these stats for 2012 suicides for the UK.
An overall number of 5981 killed themselves.
1391 were women.
4590 were men.
Any life lost through suicide is a life too many - but why do men outnumber women in such a dramatic way? And why is there so little awareness of it?
Ahhhh, there's the rub. The 'a' word. Every internet craze, every fashionable charity drive is to raise awareness of something. And it's often something that we're all quite aware of anyway. No one can say they're ignorant of the possibility of cancer killing someone they know. No one can say they haven't heard of anyone having a heart attack or a stroke. Those causes don't need 'awareness' per se - what they need is money. Money for research and medical breakthroughs. Money to make people as comfortable as possible.
Today, my awareness was raised of male suicide as a friend linked to the charity mentioned above. CALM. He is running a charity race to raise money for the charity in memory of a friend of his who killed himself last year. A man who, by all accounts, gave no indication of the torment he must have been suffering.
And then I got to thinking of all those I have known in my life (or known of) who have killed themselves. All men. Every single one. Five.
That has got to be a damning indictment of something rotten at the heart of our community - doesn't it? Or our society? Or something? There has to be a reason why suicide rates in young to middle aged men are rising.
This charity is relatively new, and it's there to provide support to men who are struggling with anything and need somewhere to go. I don't like to think that we still live in the kind of society that frowns at men talking about stuff, or asking for help. Is there really such a stigma on it still? In 2015?
I'm a massive advocate of talking about depression, anxiety, mental health problems and the general day to day hardships of being human and alive. I don't subscribe to the thinking that it's better to bury stuff. I don't agree that talking about or labelling something makes it worse. We're all human. We're all here. We're all trying to do our best to get by day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.
And how sad that thousands of people (not just men, of course) come to the conclusion that there is only one way out.
And I can't think of a better thing about which raising awareness is actually needed.
Check them out here: https://www.thecalmzone.net/about-calm/what-is-calm/