Suicide prevention: Portishead barbers aim to 'cut' male suicide

By Osob Elmi
BBC News

Image source, Martin Brittain
Image caption,
Caroline and Martin Brittain have been running their barbershop for four weeks.

A couple are offering mental health training to hairdressers to help prevent suicide within their clientele.

Martin and Caroline Brittain set up Bosscut Barbers in Portishead, North Somerset, last month after dealing with a bout of depression.

They set up Men in Mind sessions at the shop and want more barbers to be given training to support others.

Mrs Brittain said: "Having the barber shop meant not only could we heal but we could help others heal too."

'Hit rock bottom'

The couple's sessions, which are held once a month at the shop, are part of The Lions Barber Collective's campaign to raise awareness of men's physical and mental health.

The international group of barbers educate others on how they can talk to their clients about the topic.

The pair set up the barber shop on Wyndham Way, when Martin "hit rock bottom" while dealing with depression, and after their son was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a friend's death.

Caroline said: "Since opening the barber shop we have never looked back and I have two happier men around me."

Image source, Sophie van Veen
Image caption,
Tom Chapman (left) delivers 'Barber Talk Training' to aid suicide prevention.

Tom Chapman, founder of The Lions Barber collective, said: "We are in a unique position to help our clients, They share aspects of their lives with us, then walk out leaving it behind knowing it goes no further."

He believes all barbers should be trained to aid suicide prevention by spotting and advising clients who are struggling with their mental health, as NHS figures reveal suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 50 in the UK.

Dr Tiff Earle, consultant psychiatrist at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, said: "60% per cent of men do not have contact with a health professional before taking their own life.

"But pretty much every man visits his barber. Barbers report that men open up to them about things they would not share with anyone else."

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