Students have begun raising awareness of male suicide by posting a photo of themselves performing the okay gesture, alongside facts about its high rate.
This summer, students have brought attention to the issue by challenging their male friends to post a photo on Facebook of their own, alongside several hashtags, including #ITSOKAYTOTALK and #ITSOKAYNOTTOBEOKAY.
Although it is not clear where the challenge started, it has become widespread amongst University of Bristol students, with both individuals and societies such as the University of Bristol Swimming and Water Polo (UBSWPC) carrying out the challenge and posting photos.
The challenge is of particular significance for those studying in Bristol following the deaths of eleven students in the last two years, of which seven were male.
Alongside the photo, the challenge states that ‘in 2016, there were 5,668 [suicides] recorded in Great Britain. Of these, 75% were male.’ Similarly, the post being shared states that ‘the single biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide’.
Males aged between 40 and 44 were most likely to commit suicide, with a rate of 24.1 in 100,000
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2016, the latest year on record, there were 5,965 recorded suicides in the UK of which 4,508 were male. This translates to 75.6% of all suicides in 2016.
The ONS also reveals that males aged between 40 and 44 were most likely to commit suicide, with a rate of 24.1 in 100,000. Among males ages between 20 and 24, the rate was 14.8 per 100,000 persons. Amongst individuals aged 15 to 19, males were two and a half times more likely to die from suicide than their female equivalents.
The ONS reveals that the region around Bristol has the highest suicide rate of all English areas
In every age group, from 10 to 14, up to 90 and over, the number of male suicides were consistently higher than female suicides in 2016.
More specifically, the ONS reveals that the region around Bristol has the highest suicide rate of all English areas, higher even than the national rate across the UK.
'The #ITSOKAYNOTTOBEOKAY challenge is really important in spreading awareness of a major issue, and one that affects men at Bristol', said second year Languages student Charlie Harrison. 'It has definitely made me think more about the realities of male suicide, and it is something that is always closer to home than you might think.'
Featured Image: Facebook / University of Bristol Swimming and Water Polo Club
Most people who are thinking of taking their own life have shown warning signs beforehand.
These can include becoming depressed, showing sudden changes in behaviour, talking about wanting to die and feelings of hopelessness. These feelings do improve and can be treated.
If you are concerned about someone, or need help yourself, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
Other student support services include:
Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk/ 0808 802 5544
Papyrus https://www.papyrus-uk.org/ 0800 068 41 41
Student Minds http://www.studentminds.org.uk/findsupport.html