This realisation combined with the research that showed that two thirds of people who died by suicide had expressed suicidal thoughts to family and friends, led Pieta House to develop the ‘Mind Our Men’ training and education campaign, which aims to equip the public with the skills needed to reach out to the men in their lives during times of crisis.
“Although there’s been a huge increase in awareness over the past number of years it’s clearly not enough as our men are still dying by suicide,” says Joan Freeman, CEO of Pieta House. “There are hundreds of organisations doing great work but it’s family and friends who are on the frontline and who need to educate themselves on the warning signs to look out for. Research shows that more suicides are prevented by family and friends than by any organisation or institution. This is why we’re targeting the women and men of Ireland and empowering them to tackle the problem of suicide – spot the signs and save a life,” she said.
Men’s typical characteristics are of strength, logical thinking and protectiveness, and yet it seems they don’t usually seek help for themselves and if they do it’s at the point of crisis. Pieta House suggests that the reason for their reluctance is because men believe that they can fix the situation or that it will pass.
“Really and truly men will not ask for help,” Joan says. “Historically men have always been in the role or occupation of minding, defending, helping and protecting, yet they won’t look for help for themselves, so we have to look at it differently, to look at friends, family, colleagues and neighbours.
“Women tend to look after men anyway and research shows that in all these organisations dealing with heart problems etc that women make the appointment for men so we are not asking them to do something they are not already doing, but to go one step further by knowing what the signs and symptoms are,” she says.
“It’s frightening to think that there are women and men across Ireland today whose loved ones may be contemplating suicide without their knowledge – this is why it’s so vital that we all take a proactive approach in learning the signs to look out for,” she said.
Pieta House are asking the public to pledge their support for the campaign at www.mindourmen.ie where they will be provided with a support pack on suicide prevention and a list of nationwide services and resources.
“Over 1,000 people have already signed up which is huge as we have only recently launched the campaign and we plan to go county by county to promote it and to have a more intimate launch so that everybody knows the signs and symptoms of suicide,” Joan says.
“On the website people are asked to make a pledge to look after the men in their lives, whether it is a grandfather, son or best friend, as many men as you want to look after. Then they receive a document telling them the signs and symptoms and tipping points that could cause a man to take his life. It is very much about educating, we are trying to say you are going to be the link between the distressed person and organisations like Pieta House. The public can download a list of organisations on the website that can help within their county and every week a two-minute video will be uploaded which talks about some aspect of intervention and prevention to motivate people.”
There is also a corporate and organisational element to the campaign called Mind Your Buddy. This is a suicide prevention programme designed by Pieta House where designated contact people within businesses and organisations will be trained in support and referral. It is currently being implemented in male-dominated organisations such as An Garda Síochána, Scouting Ireland, the Defence Forces and the Gaelic Players Association.
Over the next few weeks, Pieta House will be travelling to counties across Ireland to promote the ‘Mind Our Men’ scheme, which has an interactive map online showing where people have pledged support. To pledge your support for the campaign and join the growing community of people across Ireland minding their men, log on to www.mindourmen.ie.
Who is Pieta House?
Pieta House, a suicide and self-harm crisis centre, has been at the forefront of suicide prevention since its establishment in 2006 by Joan Freeman, a practicing pschologist.
With her long experience of counselling people who were self-harming, Joan knew this taboo subject was little discussed and rarely understood.
Pieta House now has a staff of 80 and in 2012 more than 3,000 people came to Pieta House for help. It provides a professional, face-to-face, free of charge therapeutic service for people in the acute stages of distress. The unique clinically-based model developed by Pieta House is used across its five centres. Pieta House’s primary aim is to reduce suicide by helping people get through that critical phase when suicide becomes a plan rather than just an idea.
The demand for Pieta House’s services continues to grow, and the first half of 2012 saw a 40pc increase in the number of people attending Pieta House. As 90pc of the organisation’s funding comes from public donations, fundraising is vital to ensure an ability to cope with the increasing numbers seeking help.
For more information on Pieta House, visit www.pieta.ie or call 01 601 0000.