Taper Cypher

A Group Of British Barber Shops Are Trying To Prevent Male Suicide

A few years ago, Paul was in a dark place. His wife had left him, he’d lost his home and his dogs. His business had failed and two grandparents had died. He had heard of anxiety and depression but didn’t think they applied to him. “I thought I was just a miserable person who went through phases of not being myself, and I struggled to interact with people,” he said.

Paul was not one to reach out to others. But when he went to get a haircut, he told Tom Chapman, his barber, that things were not going well. Chapman, who had lost a friend to suicide, asked some questions, listened, and then recommended some places Paul might find help. That night, Paul took Chapman’s advice and started reading up about mental health. “I realized I had an illness I could now put a name to,” he said. The next day he went to see his parents, and told them he was thinking about taking his own lifeTogether they started a process of therapy, support, and rebuilding—a process which continues today “I still have weeks that I struggle,” Paul said on Monday (Oct. 7). “But I feel safe talking to people.”

A few years ago, Paul was in a dark place. His wife had left him, he’d lost his home and his dogs. His business had failed and two grandparents had died. He had heard of anxiety and depression but didn’t think they applied to him. “I thought I was just a miserable person who went through phases of not being myself, and I struggled to interact with people,” he said.

Paul was not one to reach out to others. But when he went to get a haircut, he told Tom Chapman, his barber, that things were not going well. Chapman, who had lost a friend to suicide, asked some questions, listened, and then recommended some places Paul might find help. That night, Paul took Chapman’s advice and started reading up about mental health. “I realized I had an illness I could now put a name to,” he said. The next day he went to see his parents, and told them he was thinking about taking his own lifeTogether they started a process of therapy, support, and rebuilding—a process which continues today “I still have weeks that I struggle,” Paul said on Monday (Oct. 7). “But I feel safe talking to people.”

There are 42,000 hair and beauty salons (including barber shops) in the UK and while there are way more beauty shops than barbers, the latter are gaining pace: in 2016, the top three start-up hair and beauty businesses were vaping, barber shops and then beauty shops. The proliferation of beards and Instagram-ready men has been good for barbers’ business.

Disconnection

The Lions Barber Collective has received assistance from Peter Aitken, a psychiatrist from Devon. Aitken, who won the psychiatrist of the year award in 2016, met Chapman on a panel a few years ago. At the time, Aitken was trying to reduce (pdf p. 4) access to lethal tools and substances as a way to lower the suicide rate. (Huge gains have been made since the 1960s and 1970s, including the shift away from coal gas in British homes which helped stop people sticking their heads in ovensmaking catalytic converters mandatory in cars to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and putting limits on Paracetamol sales to make overdose more difficult.) Eight out of 10 people regret their decision to try and take their life, Aitken said, so he and others have been working on ways to make it harder to follow through on the impulse.

Read full via QUARTZ

Taper Team

Publishing editors at Taper, Inc.

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