To mark World Suicide PreventionDay on Friday, September 10, the club and its official charity, the Foundation of Light, are backing a campaign for greater awareness and preventione.
Recent statistics show that one in five people have thought about suicide at some time in their life, with more 6,000 people dying in the UK each year. Approximately three-quarters of those deaths are amongst men and suicide is the leading cause of death in males aged 20-49.
Some of the highest rates are in the North of England, and Sunderland and South Tyneside have one of the highest rates across the region.
The Foundation is working with the North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network and Newcastle United Foundation to tackle the problem through the #BeAGameChanger campaign which actively promotes open conversations and gives football fans the confidence to talk about mental health with their mates.
The Black Cats AFC will dedicate Saturday’s Sky Bet League One match against Accrington Stanley to the campaign, using the match day platform to encourage fans to check in with their friends and family and to have the confidence to ask if they are ok.
The team will wear branded #BeAGameChanger warm-up t-shirts and campaign messaging will be seen on screens around the Stadium of Light, including a new, poignant video starring Sunderland AFC players Carl Winchester, Louise Griffiths and Charlotte Potts.
Foundation staff will also be on hand to provide support and answer questions in the SAFC Fan Zone in the Beacon of Light from 12.30pm, alongside Sunderland Branch Liaison Council’s Match Day Mental Health Hub.
Sunderland AFC fan Connor Renwick, who took part in a #BeAGameChanger workshop, is encouraging colleagues, friends and family to open up about how they are feeling, "I learnt that the best thing to do is talk,” he said.
“It doesn't help anyone keeping things bottled up, and I was always told a problem shared is a problem halved. Also, if you speak aloud about how you feel to your friends, family, or to a mental health professional, then you're on the right steps to getting yourself on the straight and narrow.
“And if someone you care about opens up to you about how they're feeling mentally, don't worry about saying the wrong thing, just listen to what they have to say and let them know you're there from them."
Foundation of Light Head of Sport and Wellbeing, Liz Barton-Jones said, “There is a common misconception that talking to someone about suicide will give them the idea to try it. But the opposite is true; by asking someone directly about suicide, you give them chance to tell you how they feel and evidence shows asking someone if they're suicidal can protect them and can save a life.
“We believe every suicide is preventable if we work together to enable timely and evidence-based interventions.”.
To watch the video visit the Foundation of Light YouTube Channel - https://youtu.be/hofnDN73nZ0
To register your business or grassroots football club to take part in a free mental health workshop contact [email protected]
Andy’s Man Club sessions take place in the Beacon of Light on Monday evenings from 7pm. To find out more visit https://www.facebook.com/Andys-Man-Club-Sunderland-111127547097296