Mental Health, Q&A
Q&A: Carly from PAPYRUS
Posted on 15th September 2023
Last Sunday – 10th September – was World Suicide Prevention Day, an annual event aimed at raising awareness and reducing the stigma of suicide. With statistics from the PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide charity indicating that:
- 1,866 young people aged under 35 years took their own lives in 2018;
- Over three-quarters of these were boys or young men; and
- On average, over five young people take their lives each day
However, research shows that – with appropriate early intervention and support – suicide by young people can be prevented.
Given the prevalence of suicide amongst young men, it’s something that we at DadPad have always had a close eye on, and we’ve therefore been delighted in recent months to connect with Carly from PAPYRUS, which has given us the chance to find out more about the amazing work that her and the whole PAPYRUS team are carrying out, across the UK. We were even more pleased when she agreed to do a Q&A blog with us!
Hi, my name is Carly, and I am a Community Development Officer with PAPYRUS in the England South team working within our communities and services on the ground and delivering workshops and training. My background has been in delivering suicide intervention training, teaching social care and mental health outreach work. I have been involved with local suicide prevention strategies since 2015. Both my husband and I are incredibly passionate about family health, and have supported friends, family and colleagues. My husband is the main care-giver in our home and we feel lucky to have a shared interest in improving mental health for young people and parents, particularly with our children.
Can you start by explaining to us what PAPYRUS is, and the work your charity does?
PAPYRUS are a national charity dedicated to the prevention of young people up to the age of 35. Sadly, this is because suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s.
The charity was founded in 1997 by a lady called Jean Kerr. Jean’s son had died by suicide and so she joined up with other bereaved parents and set up the Parents’ Association for the Prevention of Young Suicide, which has become PAPYRUS as we know it today.
As a national charity that relies on public donations, we can’t do very much at all (if anything) without kind donations and generous fundraising.
We would therefore like to say a really big thank you to everyone who has donated to PAPYRUS and to those who have either taken part in fundraising or have supported an event. The money raised helps us to continue giving hope to young people who are struggling with life.
Generous donations help to pay for potentially life-saving calls, texts and emails to our confidential HOPELINE247 service, which offers support and advice to young people and anyone who is worried about a young person who may be having thoughts of suicide.
Funding also helps PAPYRUS to engage with local communities and volunteers in suicide prevention projects and supports the training we deliver to individuals and groups, equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.
We believe that many young suicides are preventable and together we can all help to keep our communities suicide-safe.
We have three main aims and these are:
- Support, which includes our helpline HOPELINE247;
- Influence, where we can help shape community needs and influence policy change at Government level; and
- Equip, which is our range of talks, workshops and training on offer.
We also have a huge network of incredible volunteers who are our link to many important communities.
What support do you offer, and how can people access this?
We are proud to offer a suicide intervention helpline service called HOPELINE247.
A person with thoughts of suicide can call for support where they are offered a safe space to talk and feel supported in working on immediate safety with our team of trained professional suicide intervention advisors.
Concerned others can also call HOPELINE247 and seek guidance and we also offer debriefing to people following supporting a person thinking of suicide.
We are contactable via phone, webchat, text and email, and are extremely proud that the helpline has recently become available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re also encouraged at how people are using us, getting in touch and opening up at all hours of the day and night. We hope to continue to increase our reach and accessibility, to ensure people feel that there is support out there.
The HOPELINE247 contact details are as follows:
- Call: 0800 068 4141
- Text: 07860 039967
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What else does PAPYRUS do?
PAPYRUS want to spread some key messages to all and the biggest one is simply: Smashing the stigma.
We know from research and statistics over the years that around 1 in 5 people will have thoughts of suicide at some time or another, to varying degrees, and we want people to feel that:
- it’s ok to talk about this;
- it is ok to not be ok;
- it is ok to reach out to another person if you have any concerns about them, and to use clear and direct language about suicide. Talking about suicide does not put the idea in a person’s head: just listening can help, and many suicides can be prevented.;
- there is hope; and
- there are so many stories out there with a positive ending.
Your focus at PAPYRUS is the prevention of young suicide in the UK. At DadPad, we’re especially focused on supporting new dads during the perinatal period, and we’re aware that figures from 2011* indicate that fathers with perinatal mental health problems are up to 47 times more likely to be rated as a suicide risk than at any other time in their lives. How do you react to those figures?
On the face of it, those figures are very concerning.
We must always be mindful that statistics can be interpreted and presented in all sorts of ways, but one suicide is one suicide too many.
Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers, and it’s important to remember that suicide is complex and rarely the result of a single cause.
Studies and conversations had about these issues show how men often still feel that they need to be the family provider, and some of the key factors that were then impacting on thoughts of suicide stemmed from pressure from money worries and struggling to maintain a work-life balance, which can be a struggle for anyone with a family.
There may also be an impact on dad’s wellbeing and mental health due to stresses and trauma during the birth and those early weeks and months, with much of the focus and support being directed towards the mother.
What can and should we be doing to help these young men?
We need more initiatives such as male/dad peer support groups that enables men to feel connected to others and encourage talking about their feeling. Also, role models of other dads opening up about the struggles that so many go through. This could be a good way to encourage more open dialogue around the difficulties parents face.
Some examples of male-focused initiatives that are already working in this area include:
- Andys Man Club – a men’s suicide prevention charity which offers free-to-attend peer-to-peer support groups across the UK and online;
- The Lions Barber Collective – an international collection of top barbers who have come together to help raise awareness for the prevention of suicide, which includes their BarberTalk training which aims to arm barbers with the knowledge of how to spot those suffering with their mental health and to be the support that that person needs.
The other area of work is around the general judgement from society that somebody will or should be ok, together with a better understanding about mental health from a young age. People also need to know how to promote awareness, offer empathy and open up conversations about key life stages.
At a healthcare level, there needs to be more access for dads to receive support before, during and after the birth.
If you’re speaking to the partner, friend or family member of a new dad or young man who has concerns for that man’s mental health, what advice would you give them?
Talk! Start the conversation in a place that they are comfortable and don’t avoid the emotional side of what may be happening. Patience and persistence go a long way, but it’s important to remain calm if someone does not initially open up or feels you may be the wrong person for their support. Give them space and check in regularly, even when things seem calm on the surface, and signpost them to further support if needed. [We have more information and suggestions on how to start a conversation about mental health in another of our DadPad blog posts].
For any person concerned about suicide, we would really encourage them to call HOPELINE247 and to signpost to HOPELINE247, as we support both the individual and their support network.
Finally, just be willing to open up that conversation with dads, be direct to avoid stigma and judgment, and just hear what they want to say.
You can find more information – including a downloadable “Conversation Starters” resource – from our PAPYRUS resources webpage.
And, finally, what’s happening right now at PAPYRUS?
We have various community projects going on around the nation and we are motivated to continue that work, carry the messages and needs of our communities forward, and ensure that we are all creating hope and preventing suicide.
As a final note and to continue our work, we want to encourage everyone, from all communities, to make suicide prevention their business. We have a range of awareness workshops and intervention training available for all and we wouldn’t be able to reach the people we do or to hear their messages without our team of exceptional volunteers who deliver awareness talks, speak to their peers, and access and spread awareness to all communities and we want to thank them. Should anybody wish to join us or to get further information on suicide prevention, please see our website.
Huge thanks for your time, Carly!
References and further reading:
* Quevedo et al, (2011). ‘Risk of suicide and mixed episode in men in the postpartum period.’ Journal of Affective Disorders. 132(1-2), 243-246
- HOPELINE247 information
- HOPELINE247 FAQs
- Help and advice resources
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube
Related blog posts from PAPYRUS:
- A Q&A with Mark Williams for International Fathers’ Mental Health Day (2023)
- Breaking Barriers: Encouraging help-seeking behaviour in men (2023)
- Male suicide rates and possible risk factors (2023)
Related blog posts from DadPad: