Samyak Jain is our student intern, who’s here to help us promote Safeguarding Adults Week. We asked him to write about 84SilenceNoMore, a campaign he helped start in secondary school.
I first became aware of the problem of the rate of men’s suicide when Kristian Cholmondeley visited us to discuss suicide prevention. He’s a passionate campaigner about mental wellbeing and suicide prevention who works both within companies and local schools.
His presentation and story inspired me. So with the help of some of my friends, we started a committee in our school to raise money towards suicide prevention, in partnership with CALM. We called our project 84SilenceNoMore.
What Does 84SilenceNoMore Mean?
We started our project in 2019. At that time, 84 men per week lost their lives to suicide in the UK. That’s 4,368 men a year.
“Silence no more” is our slogan. We don’t want people to sweep this issue under the rug. We want men to be able to talk openly about any issues they are having instead of bottling it up.
Our aim is to raise £20,000 for CALM. To do this, our main plan was to get 1,000 people across the schools of the King Edwards foundation in Birmingham to run 6 km in Canon Hill Park in March 2020. To reach our target, we just needed each person to raise £20!
A run seemed to be the most inclusive activity for all ages, genders, and abilities. We also planned on executing a variety of smaller scale activities in the build up to the main event.
84SilenceNoMore – The Campaign
Our project officially started in November 2019. The committee split into different teams, to build and grow our campaign and to spread awareness as much as possible.
I was part of the marketing and social media team. My role was to schedule and write posts for our Instagram page, all focused on male suicide and suicide prevention.
Some of our posts featured speakers talking about their experiences with suicidal thoughts or their stories of losing close ones. Others featured signs and symptoms to look out for in a friend, and the correct and incorrect ways to support them.
For example, do you know the difference between toxic positivity and genuine optimism?
Which of these phrases below do you think are genuine optimism?
- Being negative won’t help you!
- Good vibes only!
- You’ll get over it!
- Other people have it a lot worse!
- Smile, crying won’t help!
- Just stay positive!
All of these are in fact examples of toxic positivity.
Instead of saying “just stay positive”, be more open and active with your friend. You might instead say something along the lines of: “Things are tough right now, do you want to talk about it?”
We also posted about events that we planned in school, such as cake sales, a carol service, raffles, and other activities.
After Christmas, we started to really work on our main event: The 6 km run in March. We planned on sending two members of the committee to each of the Birmingham schools in the King Edwards Foundation to deliver assemblies about our campaign, where they’d raise awareness and sign people up.
However, this is where we faced our first big challenge: Lockdown.
As the government introduced their restrictions, a big event with 1,000 people was no longer possible.
We first decided to continue with all our plans but change the date of the run to late October 2020. Lockdown might be over by then, we thought. Boy, were we wrong!
We realised that large scale events will not be possible any time soon. So we decided to only host a run with the pupils of our school. We’d set a date, and we had lots of enthusiasm and sign ups from the pupils of King Edwards VI Camphill School for Boys. But by the time November came, there was another national lockdown for four weeks. So we decided to wait out the pandemic before deciding any other dates, thinking that pupils might lose interest if we keep rescheduling.
However, by the time I got to the end of sixth form, in June 2021, things hadn’t got any better. So we decided to hand down the project to the year below us. I hope they have more success in organising the run than we did.
But even without the run, so far we have raised around £1,700.
These Issues Haven’t Gone Away
Throughout this project, I have learned a lot about the issues surrounding mental health, as well as the importance of raising awareness about suicide and its prevention.
I realised that, before this project, I unintentionally used toxic positivity to support my friends when they needed help – simply because I didn’t know what else to say. But this campaign has helped me to realise what was wrong with my support method. I now have a better idea of how to support someone who’s struggling.
Even though many of our plans fell through, I believe that our project has succeeded in raising awareness about these key issues. I am particularly proud of our efforts as a committee to plan the run, as well as the carol service and Christmas Jumper Day, which raised £1,300.
If you want to learn more about 84SilenceNoMore, you can check out our socials below. And if you wish to donate to the cause, I have linked our JustGiving page below too!