Text to break the silence around suicide

Football tournament

Suicide Prevention football tournament 2018

A text alert system to remind young men to check on their friends has been launched by Suicide Prevention North Lanarkshire, as a measure to tackle suicide.

A first in Scotland, the 'RU THAT GUY' suicide prevention campaign encourages young men to check on their friends and family at times when they may be feeling low, often after nights-out.

The text system was officially launched at a special 7-a-side football tournament held at Ravenscraig on Wednesday 12 September which featured more than 350 players from across Lanarkshire and beyond as part of National Suicide Prevention Week.

Suicide is responsible for more deaths in Scotland each year than traffic accidents, and in particular affects young men in the 30-50 year-old age group.

Lynne MacDonald, Suicide Prevention Lead with North Lanarkshire Council explained: "Suicide devastates lives and communities across Scotland every day of every week. The figures are shocking and we need to do more about it.

"The idea behind our new text alert system was born after discussions with our target audience - young men. Men are far less likely to seek help, talk to friends or let anyone know they are feeling worried, concerned or suicidal. Unfortunately, this same group are far more likely to take their own lives.

"Our RU THAT GUY campaign aims to encourage people to 'be that' person who will text or phone their friends, maybe after a night out, maybe after a tough week or just when they suspect they maybe aren't themselves. Just one simple text could make all the difference to someone who needs help. Sign-up now by texting: THATGUY to 60163."

Many of the players who participated in the 7-a-side tournament have already signed up to the text alert system, which works by sending reminders to your mobile phone at key times, often late at night and throughout the year, to check in on your friends.

The event was backed by representatives from Celtic FC and players and management from all four professional teams in North Lanarkshire and local grassroots clubs Calderbraes FC and Shotts.

Teams in the tournament, organised by North Lanarkshire Leisure, included the Motherwell Bois fan group, McDonalds and teams from the emergency services and voluntary sector.

Paula Macleod, NHS Lanarkshire General Manager of Mental Health Services, said: "People who have lived through a suicide attempt often talk about reaching the point where they could see no alternative but to take their own life, and about the days, hours and minutes leading up to this.

"Those who survive often say they didn't want to die and how important it was when someone intervened, offered support and stop them, and how they actively sought someone who would sense their despair and ask them whether they were okay.

"It tells us that for many taking a minute to reach out to someone - a complete stranger or close family member or friend - can change the course of a life."

If you are feeling suicidal or suspect that someone you know is considering suicide, contact Samaritans on 116 123 (24 hours) or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87. For more information visit www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/safer

Sign-up by texting THATGUY to 60163 or join for free by emailing your mobile number to: thatguy@northlan.gov.uk

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