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Does this look like a man who would take his own life?

“If I had known back then what I know now,” says Oli, “I would have done so much more.”

Oli Mosse is a 21-year-old photography student, living in Manchester. But he’s not your typical 21-year-old student, and neither (by the sounds of it) are his housemates; because he and his friends run ‘Headculture,’ a local charity that, like CALM, is fighting to raise awareness and prevent suicide amongst young men.

What Oli knows now is that, on average, 3 young men kill themselves in Britain every single day of the year. What he would have done back then, had he known that, is talk more to his elder brother, Jake, who, last year, succumbed to severe depression and, tragically, took his own life.

Oli didn’t know what kind of danger his brother was in. How could he have done? The statistics are not exactly widely broadcast. The fact is: suicide risk is very poorly understood. Jake was unaware of it, as were the professionals – his GP, a counsellor – who he did talk to.

Now, Oli and his friends, Simon and Nancy, and many others, roused into action by a tragic and ultimately needless loss, dedicate a considerable amount of their time to making sure that as many people as possible are made aware of the shocking statistics about the male suicide rate in Britain.

Social stigma

Jake was popular, academically successful, and ambitious; according to Oli, he was also a good-looking young man, who was a hit with the ladies. Ostensibly, he had it all. But he suffered from serious, rapidly developing and under-diagnosed clinical depression – a life-threatening illness that left him isolated from friends, many of whom had left Manchester, unable to communicate his worries, or to deal with the pressures he felt at university and his concerns about his professional future.

He sought help from his GP, but was not referred on, despite scoring 100% on the test for clinical depression. Furthermore, due to the social stigma surrounding mental illness, Jake couldn’t see himself as mentally ill and, therefore, did not refer himself to available psychiatric help. Somehow, like hundreds of other men do each year, Jake slipped through the net.

Oli and several of Jake’s friends met up after Jake’s death and decided that something had to be done. They knew about the work that CALM did and resolved to do something similar on a local level, first of all to honour their brother and friend and, secondly, to raise awareness of what, for them, had become a vital, life-changing issue.

That first objective resulted in a phone-shaped bench being erected near the Manchester University student union, symbolising the need for communication; whilst the second resulted in the formation of ‘Mind your Head,’ (the first incarnation of ‘Headculture’) and a fund-raising club night at the Ram & Shackle in Fallowfield.

Big ambitions

The next chapter begins with the name-change to ‘Headculture,’ the creation of a logo, a manifesto, a website and a presence on social networking sites. They have big ambitions, but, for now, Oli, Simon and Nancy are concentrating their efforts on raising awareness amongst the student body at Manchester’s universities – the largest student population in Europe.

To this end they took over the main tent of Manchester University’s end-of-exam Pangea Festival, transforming the main tent into an interactive chill-out area; a fun, relaxed environment where people could hang-out, listen to music, create art, and… well, talk about suicide.

For Oli, that word is the important one. At Pangea, he and his cohorts wore hoodies with ‘SUICIDE’ emblazoned across the back, putting it out there, raising questions, and, most vitally, making it an acceptable word: something that can (and should) be talked about, because it’s claiming more young male lives per year than road accidents do.

“It’s about reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness,” explains Oli, “It’s a taboo to talk about having suicidal thoughts.”

Burden of machismo

And without talking about those thoughts, there’s little chance of getting the necessary help.

For ‘Headculture,’ the aim is simple: appeal to the people that the issue is affecting, make them aware of the facts, and encourage communication; open, honest, supportive conversation, free from the burdensome restraints of machismo.

Depression is a common illness, which can affect anyone, and it can be a fatal illness. According to Oli, one of the ways to save those lives is through talking. That’s his maxim. But how does ‘Headculture’ find a way to appeal to those people and get that point across?

Well, in Manchester, Oli et al have developed strong ties with the music scene, which has become the primary medium for the charity’s message. ‘Headculture’ uses music events to raise awareness and raise funds for future club-nights and gigs, with the aim to outdo itself every time, getting bigger and better and more effective.

Before he took his own life, Jake was looking at ways in which social networking could be used to provide structures for mutual support for young men suffering from depression. At the time, due to the severity of his illness, his ideas didn’t come to fruition.

CALM salutes Oli and Simon and Nancy and everyone involved with ‘Headculture’ in Manchester for continuing in Jake’s spirit and doing such tremendous work for a cause we all believe so much in.!/pages/Headculture/135888573127465

Related issues

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

13 Responses to this article

  1. Oli Mosse 17th February 2011 at 7:41 pm
  2. I’ve had some traumatic experiences in life. It does get you down and makes you want to cry for help. I also know a suicidal person, life gets messy for people.

    Lloyd 19th February 2011 at 7:25 pm
  3. Please like our facebook page and look out for future Headculture events.

    Oli Mosse 20th February 2011 at 3:40 pm
  4. Unless Im wrong, (usually am lol) the question asked is DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A MAN WHO WOULD TAKE HIS OWN LIFE? he seems happy but undernesth he could be hiding a lot. Im by no means proud of it but since 1982 ive had a whole series of suicide attemps, (a few in psyciatric hospitals some as a cry for help others as really meaning it. I had a “breaksdown” in 1982 following a very serious car accident and extreme troubles at work (i was a life assurance agent in the Midlands) and the usual happened one gets administered drug after drug after drug until you become an almost walking pharmacy ( and they wonder why we get delusions!!!) i am now 62 living in a very very low supported elderly peoples home (individual flats ) and thers no staff overnight and none tat all at weekends. one lady is in the office 9 to 5pm and is laughingly titled “The Enabler” she came her about the same time I did (NOv last year) and nice as she is she is leaving shortly we reckon its because on of the reidents died. its classed as “high support” = because we have these stupid emergency chords plastered round each flat. also to make my life even more hazadous I was admitted to a general hospital in April last year suffering from a brain hemorrage and a fully blow n stroke. i also have high bp and problems with my “waterworks” which is damned humiliating. Before i moved here i had Rethink take me on and they helped me move here, A Teenage tudent was alloted to me (A 62 year old man, words fail me) and she curtley informed me that they were to stop visiting me. I was shocked as none o fthis had been discussed until i was in this one bedroom flat. Rethink are Supposed to be the number one mental health organisation , all i can say god knows how bad the other ones are. Ive had quite a god career after 1982 as i trained on one of the Employment Training courses in the last 80s and woked as a london fringe stage manager, This was fun to say th eleast (but it was marred by further breakdowns ( Not caused by the work I might add) The work is incerdible and ive worked with people like Clive Owen , the lovely late Sussanah York(We were to put a show together) Tom Georgeson , , Steven Berkoff, Linda Marlowe, Dervla Kirawn (Ballykissangel) to name but a few. had to leaveLondon as my life was in danger, I was threatened by people inthe uk following my time as a victim of a horrible Nigerian dating scam. ( I went down to 7 stone and had to busk to earn money for food, < this was about 5 years ago and luckily I met a lovely lady who woke me up to what was going on. WE are no longer together and thats making me unhappy, I Believe shes in a flat in Glastonbury town and i fear for her safety. its a drug takers haven. Thats a lttle of my story , horrid but true. Blessings )0( J Im very very sad to hear about jake and I will suport Oli on his page and wish him and his friends every success,

    triffiks 7th June 2011 at 8:04 pm
  5. I’m profoundly deaf,70 year old, gay but very clean person and home alone, I’ve been discriminate by my late parents because they are strong bad attitude,selfish,cruel to me for many years so I still always unhappy life why they won’t allow out for my pleasure with any friends, so old my friends are gone and lost so I’ve been sad for many years for nothing because of gay are horrible sex so not true,
    I loves gay life and more happiness just like gay lady, but my late parents never realize about this,
    I’ve once meet partially deaf Adrian Mitchell but he now gone so may be dead or alive so perhaps mental health hospital or home but I did not know but where he gone so I miss him so if he still alive,
    we may be strong relationship so we now nothing have real relationship for years to lose life so I’ve bit unhappy life without a partner and look shame really still home by nobody have me once again as real relationship

    DAVID H J BURGESS 17th July 2011 at 10:23 am
  6. David,

    That sounds tough but I have so much respect for you for being true to yourself. I believe we are what we are. I am sorry that your parents seemingly never understood you.

    Having just found this website I must say how refreshing it is – really, it’s something special.
    That article on Jake’s tragedy and the way his family and friends have got involved to help others is inspirational.

    Keep up the great work. With hard work people WILL talk about suicide, depression and all these other ‘taboo’ words they are so fearful of bringing up in conversation.

    I pledge now to help however I can.


    Alan 1st December 2011 at 4:13 pm
  7. Help I’m suicidal and deeply depressed.

    tom 17th December 2011 at 7:35 pm
  8. I almost killed myself in September 2008: I’d had enough of life. I hit rock-bottom, and then sank deeper. I’d walk in circles in my bedroom. Both parents downstairs totally unaware that I was steadily reaching my goal. I had a very good friend, or so I thought. She did save my life, but afterwards she turned to drugs and pushed me away. I’ve self-harmed since my teenage years; I’m now in my early forties. I’ve been out of work since May 2004. I have a social worker who helps, and a psychiatrist that I perhaps see three times a year.

    I lost my father in November, it was the fourth of the month that he passed away. I can’t bring myself to accept it. I really want to kill myself now because I feel so guilty that we never really got on as a father-son relationship should be. I’m finding it very difficult to motivate myself, to get out of bed, and now eat. It’s a pattern I follow.

    The problem with this country is that NO-ONE listens. I told my GP over and over. Take these and come back in a week. I’m changing your medication now come back in another week. Well I didn’t go back I was in Intensive Care with a 30% chance of survival: I’d done it, I’d taken an overdose, a big overdose. My ma tells me afterwards that they prepared her for the worse possible outcome. All this because not one person listened to me and offered me the relevant care that, for example a cancer patient would get (don’t hold me to ransom over saying that because my father recently died from cancer). I simply took all my medication swilled it down, laid on my bed and cried because I knew I had to go. I had no life left in me, no future, nothing.

    Three years and looking back at the overdose the medical staff got their act together – AFTER THE FACT – I got my own council flat, I get relevant benefits, I had the crisis team visit me.

    So for all those people out there who are wanting to kill themselves don’t do it. Do what I do and have a picture of a younger member of the family in front of your tv. Think of them when you feel depressed use them as a means of making it through, and it that isn’t enough write down your emotions, goto A&E, and show the receptionist it. That’s what I do. I’m totally incapable of ever working again because my mental health issues are very complex and there is nothing that can be done.

    Be strong.

    Paul Stewardson 19th December 2011 at 8:43 pm
  9. I left a post and hoped someone would get back to me I come back onhere to see if there is any help and it look like my plea was deleted Thnaks alot guys!!! Bye

    john doe 24th January 2012 at 12:39 am
  10. Hi John,

    I was sorry to read your post today. Your previous comment is still on the site – you can find it here:

    I hope that helps, if you want to talk to someone at CALM please call our helpline (info here: ) We’re not able to offer help via comments on the website but the helpline is there exactly for that and it’s anonymous and confidential.

    Really hope that is of use to you, we are bothered and want to help if we can.


    Merseyside CALMzone 25th January 2012 at 10:30 am
  11. hi there my name is tom im slipping in to deeper depression and dont what to do please any advice would be great

    tom 22nd April 2012 at 3:57 pm
  12. hi. i have recently lost my 29 yr old nephew to suicide and, in his memory, would like to set up some kind of awareness group/fund raising, in fact anything that will help to bring this tragic problem into the limelight and hopefully help other sufferers. it will also be a way of keeping my nephew’s memory alive and give family and friends something to focus on in memory of our lovely P aul. could you give me any ideas on how to set the ball rolling locally cos i haven’t a clue where to start ? thank you

    mandy 19th May 2012 at 5:43 am
  13. I’ve read this page with great interest. I think that could easilly have been me this article was about, except for the ‘hit-with-the-ladies’ part. In fact that is probably a big reason why many young men commit suicide. You have no idea of the pain that unrequited love can bring until you have felt it. More common is unrequited lust. I was always considered ‘handsome and good looking as a teenager’ and was often reminded about this… Unfortunately I did not realise or believe it and instead looked forward to some period in my 20’s when I may start to feel like a real man and could start having girlfriends etc. Well, at age 19, I started getting acne. This got fairly bad in a short space of time. I would go as far as to say it ‘ruined’ my personal growth and instead of becomming more confident as I got older, I found myself becomming the opposite. People would say ‘don’t worry it’ll pass, and it doesn’t affect your attractiveness anyway’… Unfortunately it remained throughout my 20’s, the most critical time while everyone else is enjoying being in their ‘prime’, I would start each day with self hatred from my own reflection. It ultimately changed me, made me more self obsessed and skin obsessed than is normal for a man. No-one would give me the compliments I got as a teenager anymore, I was no longer the handsome chap who ‘would have women falling at his feet’. I put on a brave face and would pretend to be ok but inside I was crying. I went through so much pain and thought of suicide so much, and would often consider how the best way to go would be. It was only the thought of the affect it would have on my mother that stopped me. In my late 20’s the acne relaxed a bit but I had the scar tissue to show for it. I would go out with my mates to clubs and they would bring back girls whilst I would go back alone, suffering the affects of low confidence induced by excess self awareness from years of crawling in my skin. I ended up paying for sex several times just so I would not forget how it feels and could die having known.

    I went to the Dr’s several times, the response was usually ‘we can give you antidepressants’ or you can go to a mental health charity or both… … NEXT patient please.

    I managed through self-help, to improve myself and proscribed myself the one thing that all Dr’s should forcably prescribe depression victims… a serious exercies regime. Literally, timetabled exercise… in combination with writing about your feelings in a journal and EFT tapping, meditation and yoga. All these in combination could proabably have the power to lift people out.

    I ended up getting a good job after 2 years unemployment… and have felt a lot happier since. There’s nothing like exercise and busy lifestyle to stop depression. I am not saying I am cured but I’m managing and getting stronger. I really think the NHS should have special ‘depression service’ for anybody who goes to their GP with symptoms. There should be many avenues explored before drugs are prescribed. The avenues need to be easilly accessible and available quickly. It would not be that hard for them to have a centre for exercise, and alt therapies paid for by the NHS… they could save loads on those pharmaceuticles and benefit payments. But I guess they do not want to.

    Alex 24th September 2012 at 10:47 pm

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