Newcastle Barbers Help Cut Young Suicides

Two County Down barbers have decided to support a national suicide charity.

Michael Graham and Neal Toner of Just for Him Male Image and Grooming in Newcastle have backed a UK-wide group of top UK barbers, the Lions Barbers Collective, who are supporting World Suicide Prevention Day with the announcement of a new initiative, which aims to help national charity PAPYRUS, Prevention of Young Suicide, in its work to reduce the number young deaths to suicide.

Suicide is the main cause of death in young people under 35. Over 1,600 take their own lives every year. Three quarters of them are young men.

[caption id="attachment_59005" align="aligncenter" width="540"]Michael Graham and Neal Toner  of Just for Men in Newcastle are supporting a suicide prevention initiative for young men who may be vulnerable to suicide. Michael Graham and Neal Toner of Just for Him in Newcastle are supporting a suicide prevention initiative for young men who may be vulnerable to suicide.[/caption]

Called the Lions Barbers’ Collective, the group aims to raise awareness that there is hope for young men who feel they are not coping with life. The Collective intends to celebrate wellbeing in young men with a ‘look book’ of hairstyles to be released in the coming months.

Michael Graham of Just for Him said:  “Men often share confidences with their barbers that they would not discuss with their friends, families or partners. We’ve been in business in Newcastle for six years involved in male grooming and are fully trained.

“We learned that Tom Chapman from Torquay had set up this initiative and thought we would join in to support it. Both myself and my business partner Neal Toner have been affected by suicide with the loss of friends and family members. We understand the background to this ongoing tragedy.

“When you cut someones hair you are working round their head and they tend to trust you more and sometimes open up a bit. It is at this point that we can help make our clients feel better about themselves and if necessary we could signpost them to professional help if needed. We play the role in a sense of a listening ear.”

Neal Toner added: “We have local contacts with people in PIPS and can always recommend them as they are a great local organisation with a full range of help including counselling services. They are there to help any young person who feels distressed and possibly having suicidal thoughts.

“We will be putting up some graphics shortly to promote this. Our job is to make people feel good about themselves. But we do get some who need a wee lift to boost their self esteem and confidence and we’d like to think we do that for them.”

Torquay Barber Tony Chapman, founder of the Collective, said: “I feel my clients trust in me to share any problems or troubles they are having in their life and many have done so in the past.

“As barbers we are therefore in a unique position to encourage our clients to seek help and indeed help them to find it. For example, PAPYRUS HOPELineUK helpline services are confidential and anonymity is respected. Young men – and women – can call, text or email for support and where necessary work with the charity’s trained advisors to form a safe plan.”

Having lost an old friend to suicide, Tom is well aware that it is all too frequently a taboo subject. He said: “The Lions Barbers Collective wants to encourage men to talk about it. Only then will we shatter this stigma,” he emphasised.