People around the world have been sharing photos of themselves making the OK hand sign — but this symbol is more than just a cool selfie pose. Beneath the hashtag of #ItsOkayToTalk, men and women are raising suicide awareness for men, who are 3.5 times more likely to take their lives than women.
Irish international rugby player Luke Ambler started the campaign on July 31 after a personal tragedy: His brother-in-law killed himself and Ambler believes he might not have been driven to that point if he had someone to talk to.
“My brother-in-law killed himself back in April and it was completely out of the blue. I found it staggering — the impact it left on my kids, his family and friends. I decided something needed to be done, so I created a Facebook group called Andy’s Man Club UK where men feel it’s safe to talk.”
After starting the club, Ambler posted a picture of himself making an OK hand symbol on Twitter and requested others to do the same.
Now the social media campaign has spread across Australia and is quickly making its way to United States as well.
Thanks @billiekaywwe for tagging me in this! All I have to say is You Matter. And please, never forget; the world would simply not be the same if You did not exist. The biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide. Suicide impacts family, friends, work colleagues and communities. If you notice a friend or a family member who hasn't been their usual self ask the question "are you ok?" and lend a listening ear don't offer resolutions a listening ear can be all the difference. Everyone has their own battles and their own life story, you are not alone no matter how big or how the small the problem is. There is nothing wrong with speaking up. In 2014, 4623 men took their own life. That's 12 men every day, 1 man every two hours! 41% of men who contemplated suicide felt they could not talk about their feelings. Only 20% of people know that suicide is the most likely cause of death for men age under 45. Let's show men across the world that #ITSOKAYTOTALK and take a selfie with the ?? @toughdaria, you're up ?
Love this campaign. Thanks @johnharlankim To all you beautiful fellas out there, young and old, It's great to have feelings! Don't be afraid. In my early teens I was once told I was "too emotional!", which caused me to shut down for many years. Talking and reconnecting to myself and my emotions changed my life. Truly one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. Speak deeply. Listen deeply. Show your buddies love. The single biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide. In 2014, 4623 took their own life. That's 12 men everyday, 1 man every 2 hours.. 41% of men who contemplated suicide felt they could not talk about their feelings. Only 20% of people know that suicide is the most likely cause of death in men under the age of 45. Let's show men across the world that #ITSOKAYTOTALK Everyone get involved. ??????????
The need to address men’s mental health is very dire, especially in light of the age-old stigma that forces men not to show weakness or ask for help.
More than 800,000 people kill themselves each year, according to the World Health Organization, and suicides account for an approximate 1.4 percent of all deaths in the world.
In the United States, 42,000 people die every year and the suicide rate of men is 3.5 times higher than that of women. In the United Kingdom, there was an estimated 6,122 suicides in 2014 with suicide rates in men more than three times higher than women. In Australia, around 2,000 people commit suicide each year, and men account for 76 percent of suicide deaths.
This trend of men committing suicide more frequently than women is seen throughout the world.
Photo credit: Twitter/IamRogerKerr