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  • Writer's pictureJacob Abraham Foundation

Comic Relief 2018 & NewLink Wales


Suicide Stings

A collaboration between The Jacob Abraham Foundation and NewLink Wales. Funded by Comic Relief.

What we want to do:

Suicide rates are at an all-time high among men under 35. Mental health problems affect 1 in 10 young people.Yet mental health services struggle to identify or engage with young men in need of support, and young men are often reticent about their mental health problems, or reluctant to seek support. It’s just not something you talk about.

We want to find a way to break through the stigma by placing conversations around mental health and suicide into a new context. Boys will be engaged through education sessions, run alongside the unusual and therapeutic practice of beekeeping. Men will be engaged through tattoo artists trained to spot the signs and have the difficult conversations with the young men sat in their studios.

It’s an innovative and brave approach, but we believe it will work.

Why tattooists?

A tattoo artist is more likely than mainstream support services to encounter young men struggling with their mental health. We know that services are having difficulty reaching these men, and we also know that young men are often not willing to open up about their mental health – so we need to look beyond the usual referral routes.

If just 25 tattooists were given suicide prevention training, with a typical rate of three clients a day they have the potential to reach out to 19,500 people a year. If just 1% of that 19,500 engagement manages to prevent suicide, that’s a saving to services of £331.5 million annually.

In the case of Jacob Abraham, after whom the Foundation is named, some of his friends took their own lives following Jacob’s suicide. The issue spreads through communities of young men, and we need to do whatever we can to stop it. Tattoo artists give us an incredibly vital way in.

What training can we provide?

Boys under 18 will receive free beekeeping training. This is because there are many parallels because the skills we generally teach people in therapeutic settings, and the skills needed for beekeeping. Emotional regulation, distress tolerance, communication, empathy, mindfulness, wellness skills, environmental awareness – there’s a lot that caring for bees can teach you.

We’ll be providing free Suicide Brief Intervention training for any community member that wants to help. The course gives a brief overview in suicide prevention, and how to give basic support to those in need.

We’ll also hoping to give free training for professionals on how to raise awareness of the issue and giving them essential guidance for how to respond when faced with males in distress, as well as how to provide postvention support.

Tattooists will have the opportunity to attend the Suicide Brief Intervention training and will then receive specialist support from the Jacob Abraham Foundation to help give them further skills they’ll need. We’ll also be asking them to collect basic data, which will help our project grow further.

NewLink Wales helps people get their lives back on track by supporting them to change behaviours and lifestyles that affect their health and wellbeing

Jacob Abraham Foundation was set up after the death of the founder’s son in October 2015. Jacob was aged 24 when he took his own life. His death deeply shocked the family and the local community, raising questions about the complexities of mental health in young men.

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