Every week, 84 men die from suicide in the UK.
It’s a statistic that’s got Britain talking today — as 84 lifesize statues, based on real people, were erected on top of ITV’s London studios, staring down at the city as it woke up.
The powerful stunt, called #Project84, was organised by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), supported by UK television studio ITV.
Artist Mark Jenkins and collaborator Sandra Fernandez worked with bereaved family members to create each sculpture as a visual representation of real British men who have taken their lives. Every man is named on the CALM website — and the site includes stories about them as told by their closest friends and family.
My dad, Daniel Mulhall, is one of these 84 statues by #project84 which tell the stories of 84 men lost to suicide, representing the 84 men who take their own lives every week in the UK. Miss you dad ❤️ @theCALMzone@ITV@thismorning#Project84https://t.co/IPtJzhM9dJpic.twitter.com/TpM3OaS0aH— Aaron Ellis (@byAaronEllis) March 26, 2018
Male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, and 75% of all suicides are carried out by men. Every suicide directly affects 135 other people — and CALM has partnered with Matthew Smith, who lost his brother to suicide 13 years ago, to call on the UK government to improve suicide prevention and bereavement support. Over 50,000 people have already signed their petition.
"My brother Dan was my best pal and my idol,” said Matthew Smith. “He was taken by something silent, something none of his friends or family saw coming. The true horror of what we as his family experienced when he took his own life is something that could be preventable if we all take a stand together."
I am supporting @theCALMzone's #Project84 in memory of my older brother Dan— Matthew Smith (@matty_smith94) March 26, 2018
On average, 84 men take their own lives each week
Keep an eye out on @thismorning over the next few days and check out here 👇https://t.co/JG6SuDgTjOpic.twitter.com/MOVupGXwq1
Mental health plays an important part in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that form the basis of their vision for a better world. Under its global health campaigning, it promotes positive wellbeing, and aims to reduce “premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases” by a third.
Often, suicide disproportionately affects the poorest people in society. Across the world, research from the World Health Organisation shows that those with low or middle incomes have far higher suicide rates than those with a high income. Such a pattern is reflected in the UK, as one study showed that an additional 30,000 to 40,000 suicide attempts may have occurred after the economic downturn. Academics from Bristol, Manchester, and Oxford Universities suggested that austerity might be responsible for an extra 1,000 suicides.
Wow. ITV currently have 84 statues across their buildings. They are for #Project84 to represent the 84 men who die from suicide every week. A brilliant way to make the invisible, visible. It is getting people talking about something we don't like to talk about. Well done, ITV. pic.twitter.com/0ImEEI4Zn5— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) March 26, 2018
But numbers alone can sometimes struggle to get the message across, and CALM wanted to lead with more intimate stories.
“With Project 84, we wanted to make the scale of the situation very clear to everyone that sees the sculptures,” said Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM. “By working with the families and friends of men who have taken their own lives to highlight individual stories, we hope to make the impersonal thoroughly personal.”
The stunt evoked a powerful response from Londoners who first caught sight of the statues on the Southbank on Monday morning.
Actually an emotional mess watching @thismorning. I've never had a dad in my life, but if you have yours, or a brother, uncle or close male friend, ask how they are. Let them know they can talk to you. It might just save their life. #mensmentalhealth#project84— Britt Whyatt 🍁 (@shewhobakes1) March 26, 2018
There are currently 84 statues on top of ITV’s London buildings for #project84 to represent the 84 men who die from suicide every week. It’s a brilliant way to make the invisible, visible. It’s getting people talking about something we don’t like to talk about. pic.twitter.com/Xsh8UaG4nz— David Blackmore (@DavidBlackm0re) March 26, 2018
If you need support and you’re based in the UK, you can call the CALM helpline on 0800 58 58 58 between 5 p.m. and midnight. Alternatively, call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you just need to talk.
Global Citizen campaigns on the UN’s Global Goals, including Goal No. 3 for good health and wellbeing, including mental health issues. Take action with us here.