Delighted And Maybe Just A Little Bit Proud
To those that read this blog regularly I make no apologies for returning to this subject again.
Mental health awareness and, in particular, male suicide.
I have covered this before in previous posts so it will come as no surprise to know that this is a topic that I feel passionate about. What did surprise me however when I checked back on some of my recent posts was the regularity with which I have mentioned mental health and referenced male suicide in my writing over the last few months.
There is clearly a message here and a strong connection between my aim for this blog, to show the beauty in our everyday world, and the positive effect that this can have on mental health.
So I was delighted and maybe just a little bit proud to be involved once again at the weekend with another wonderful and uplifting display of support and awareness for this very important subject. As before, a group of football fans decided to walk between their respective clubs home grounds before a match between their teams, a total of 12 miles through the centre of London. And all in order to raise awareness in the media of the still frankly terrifying figures of male suicide in the UK.
To quote Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), suicide remains the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK, with 84 male suicides every week.
These very scary statistics should cause everyone to pause and think.
Perhaps more important however was the fact that this walk, like the previous one held back in February, positively encouraged those involved to talk to each other. About football, of course, but also about how they were feeling. This ad-hoc but incredibly supportive environment was successful in getting so many of the people that I spoke with to open up on what is clearly a very personal subject and something that they almost certainly rarely do.
And that is the point.
Men rarely talk honestly about how they feel.
I spoke with people on Sunday who have attempted suicide. Normal, decent people who sometimes still think that this could be a route worthy of consideration when the struggles of life become too much to deal with.
Imagine what it must feel like then to be able to share those sometimes terrifying thoughts with someone who actually wants to listen and offer support.
Potentially life saving.
I shared my feelings with strangers and friends alike. No shame, no fear, just walking and talking about how we were feeling. In fact, the day itself encouraged conversations within my small group of friends on the way home that would simply never have happened otherwise.
It is difficult to accurately describe how positive this felt. I know that it is widely accepted that simply talking to someone can have psychological benefits, either in a formal, theraputic capacity or just with a mate in the pub. However when this goes a step further and people find that they are actually making a connection with those that they are speaking with, then the power increases. And to see the way in which those involved, and I include myself in this, interacted on the day and have continued to do so on social media since confirms this for me. Making connections and feeling able to contribute and support fulfill two of our basic human needs after all.
So to summarise by saying that this was an uplifting day spent with people who really want to make a difference is accurate. It really was.
Accurate, but it just doesn’t quite do the day justice I feel.
Because somehow, when you put it all into context and realise what has taken place, it feels a little more important than that.