Eddy Says

Eddy Says: Talk, listen and help CALM to help young men who are suicidal

By | Published on Tuesday 15 November 2011

CALM

As you may know, Eddy joined the Music Board of suicide awareness charity CALM following the death of his friend, Ou Est le Swimming Pool frontman Charles Haddon, who took his own life at the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium in August 2010. Since then, he has been involved in various initiatives to boost the profile of the charity, which aims to bring down the high rate of suicides amongst young men in the UK. Here he announces an event to launch the charity’s new magazine, RESET, and a new helpline number later this month.

I don’t know what the gender breakdown of people who read this column is, but I wouldn’t mind betting that it’s majority male. Just like I’d bet that the majority of people buying CDJs, or vinyl records, would be male. Another fact I’d bet on is that there are many reading this who are unaware that the biggest killer of men under 35 in this country is not drugs, cars, bikes, cancer or knife crime. All these things are dwarfed by one thing: Suicide. Unhappily, suicide is another thing where, in the UK, the majority of people who do it are male. The vast majority. By a landslide.

(Girls, don’t stop reading, I’m talking to you too. While the female suicide rate is a fraction of the male suicide rate, it’s still unacceptable, in that it is largely avoidable. Plus you ladies have a crucial role to play in dealing with the male suicide rate also, because you can teach us how to be more like you, god knows we need it – so many of us blokes need our girlfriends or our girl-friends to help us unlearn our daft bloke-ishness.)

Many of you know (from columns I’ve written here in the past including Ou Est Le Conversation? and Keep CALM And Carry On) that, through my friend, the utterly brilliant Joseph Hutchinson from Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, I became involved with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), the unique charity set up specifically to be there for young men to fall back on if they become depressed and suicidal.

The need for an organisation like this becomes painfully clear when you look at the figures for, say, a city like Liverpool. Everyone at CALM was blown away when the figures emerged. Since CALM was set up there, and started reaching out to the young men of that city, the suicide rate was driven down by OVER 50%!

Let the wonderful Simon Howes, from CALM Liverpool, talk us through this: “Numbers of suicide and undetermined injury deaths amongst men aged fifteen to 34 in Merseyside [came] down 55% from 1999 to 2009 … We did it by taking the CALM brand and the message to every suitable lifestyle, music, sport etc outlet across the patch. We chose credibility over everything so that our audience saw us in their worlds, their turf, talking their language. We worked with quality partners like Creamfields, Chibuku and Liverpool Sound City and promoted ourselves with audacity and style. This made us a viable option, one that young men would consider when they wouldn’t touch others with a barge pole. They recommended us to their mates and we became the support option of choice”.

Men’s lives are being saved here, just by getting them to talk more and giving them someone to talk to, if they feel alone. So can we do something about London now? That’s the big question, and we’re answering that with a resounding “HELL YES!”

Some weeks ago I got the call, or rather, the email, from the nice people at CALM alerting me to the fact they are launching both their excellent magazine, RESET, and a new helpline in London this month, and that Topman was kindly pitching in by providing a venue for CALM to take over for the day, to help raise awareness.

My colleagues on the CALM Music Board and I were asked if we could come up with some DJs to fill slots between twelve noon and 8pm on 25 Nov at Topman’s flagship store in Oxford Street. So, keyboards started rattling and thumbs got texting. Naturally, my first call was to the biggest radio DJ in the UK. My old pal, Zane Lowe.

My relationship with Zane these days is the perfect metaphor to demonstrate just how awful men are at communicating. In the past decade we’ve seen each other twice. Both times at gigs. We keep saying we’ll get together, then we never do. Life just gets in the way, and, of course, being men, we hardly ever talk about it. So when Zane said: “Yeah, great cause, count me in!” I joked that the only way I’d get to see him is if we both DJed at exactly the same time. Then it hit me. Two men, communicating, right there in front of you, behind decks… of course! This would provide the perfect visual metaphor for what we’re trying to get across here. Suddenly we realised that if we booked twice as many DJs as we had slots, we could put them up against each other, in the classic ‘versus’ format.

I’m careful not to use the word ‘soundclash’ because that implies there will be a winner and loser. And that is not in the spirit of what we’re doing here. It’s about communication, pure and simple. Communication and co-operation. So, I’ll get an hour to hang out with my friend Zane for the first time in around a decade. And, thanks to the support of numerous friends and colleagues of both myself and other CALM Music Board members, various male DJ friends will be coming together for some communication and co-operation all throughout the day.

In fact we have ended up with a bill that looks like a small festival, with some of the finest male DJs and producers in the UK, many of whom have a profound understanding of why they are there. Here is what just a few of them had to say…

Zane Lowe: “What support groups like CALM do is help men who struggle with balance to understand that they are not alone. That when things get too much, there is help at hand. It’s really important that music plays a part in this. It helps people to express themselves when simple dialogue is not enough”.

Huw Stephens: “I’m looking forward to a special day of music to highlight a very worthy cause. It’s going to be a fun day and will hopefully bring CALM to the forefront of a lot of people’s minds”.

Rob Da Bank: “Nearly all of us must have had or will have extremely dark or suicidal thoughts at some point during our lives. It’s human nature. That’s why CALM are doing such an important job – not only helping and being a friendly ear for men experiencing those thoughts, but also reminding the rest of us that the issue is happening and is out there”.

Kissy Sell Out: “I think the tendency to ‘bottle things up’ is an institutional phenomenon amongst young men and the suicide rate of under 35s is, frankly, horrifying. The service offered by CALM to help anyone who contacts them is both important and dignified, so I am very proud to be supporting this cause with this and future events”.

Hervé: “We need to help young men speak about the (in their minds) unspeakable”.

Sonny Wharton: “I’m very humbled to be helping raise awareness for CALM at this event. As guys we aren’t naturally the most forthcoming about dealing with pressure and often bottle our problems up – I think it’s really encouraging that there is a charity like CALM to offer the help and support that a lot of young men really do need when they feel low. Hopefully through the fun vibes of this event we can help bring focus to this in a positive way!”.

Ed Wideboys: “Having had experience of one of our closest friends taking his own life and leaving behind a family, any awareness and help to people on this subject is priceless and we are backing CALM 110% in their campaign to increase knowledge”.

A most poignant quote in support came from Kaiser Saucy of The Loose Cannons, which took me back, and totally surprised me, in so far as, you look at a guy like him, one of the most flamboyant, bouncy, happy-go-lucky DJs on planet earth and you think – well, I think – surely this man has never been touched by depression, surely this man has no understanding of what’s at stake here. But in a marvellous stereotype-shattering way, he came up with the deepest and most incredibly thoughtful words, I was almost moved to tears when I first read this…

He said: “It strikes me that the possible benefits of the very existence of CALM, and its potential capacity in terms of the people it attempts to reach, are so vast as to be almost unquantifiable. Everybody gets down from time to time. There’s never enough money. People let you down. Your career hasn’t amounted to a tenth of what you imagined at school – these feelings are universal, and yet to admit to worries like these, amazingly, still somehow seems wantonly selfish and is often regarded as in some way ‘weak’ or just ‘foolish navel-gazing’ by most men. And worse, through no fault of their own, most male friends should they ever be reached out to, are themselves massively unaccustomed to dealing with psychological problems of this nature. Instead tending to opt for the easy, but ultimately unhelpful, ‘It’ll be alright mate’, coupled with a jovial slap on the shoulder. The mere existence of CALM as a charity gives legitimacy to the FACT that these issues are real, that you don’t have to sit there and stew in silence, that there are people out there who understand what you’re going through, and most importantly, it’s fucking OK to ask for a little help sometimes. You’re not alone. Believe in finding CALM”.

I’m also particularly moved that Majestic will be there, Wideboys’ MC. Many will have seen him working with Jacob Plant and a few will have seen us together at The Full Moon Party on Kavos this summer just gone. Majestic is bang in the middle of CALM’s target demographic. He is in his early 20s, a Londoner that has had a hard life, and been ravaged by depression in the past. You couldn’t meet a nicer, happier young man right now, but this is a man who knows, first hand, how important an organisation like CALM is for young men like him. It’s vital. I use that word literally.

Today, even perhaps as you read this, a young man, under 35 years old, in London, will kill himself, like 434 did last year, because they felt so alone, and had nobody to turn to when it really mattered. You can bet your arse none of them killed themselves while they were talking to someone. So these deaths are AVOIDABLE. We know that from what happened in Liverpool. The calls to CALM went up, the suicide rate came down. It’s a simple and exquisite relationship either side of a fulcrum, and that fulcrum is CALM.

So, please spread the word. Talk about it, support it, and most importantly (and I’ve asked this before) do me a favour and just call an old friend, someone you haven’t seen for ages. Give them a call, let them know you love them, and you’re there for them, and that you know how crap you both are at saying these things. (There’s a gap here. I picked up my phone, before I’d finished writing, and had a 20 minute conversation with a man I love, who I know is having a hard time at the moment).

It’s too easy to say ‘call someone you know is depressed’ because, more often than not, the ones who are depressed aren’t telling you they feel that way, because they are men, and we’re just mostly not hard-wired that way. So you never know, but just by calling and talking and LISTENING to a mate, right now, you MAY have personally brought next year’s suicide figures down from 434 to 433.

X eddy

PS – Here’s some blurb to help you spread the word:

DJ schedule – 25 Nov, Topman Oxford Circus:

12pm – 1pm
Rob da Bank
The Maccabees

1pm – 2pm
Zane Lowe
Eddy Temple-Morris

2pm – 3pm
Mistajam
Pixel Fist

3pm – 4pm
Kissy Sell Out
Union

4pm – 5pm
Hervé
Baxta

5pm – 6pm
Sonny Wharton
Wideboys & Majestic

6pm – 7pm
The Loose Cannons
The Freestylers

7pm – 8pm
Huw Stephens
dan le sac

For press enquiries and interviews contact Nick Bateson at Leyline Publicity on nick@leylinepromotions.com or 020 7575 3285

How to contact CALM:
Online: www.thecalmzone.net
Helpline: 0800 58 58 58 or 0808 802 5858*, it’s free, confidential & anonymous.
Texting no: 07537 404717*, please start your first text CALM1.
CALM doesn’t charge, though the caller’s network might.
Lines open 5pm-midnight, Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues. *Please note the two numbers marked will become operational on 26 Nov 2011.

About CALM:

CALM was first launched as a Dept of Health pilot in 1997 before it became a charity in 2006 with the support of music mogul Anthony Wilson. It is a well-known brand in Merseyside, where the service was commissioned in 2010 by the local health authorities. Since then, the suicide rate has dropped year on year in young men there, dropping further than either the average for the North West and for England and Wales.



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