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CALM’s CEO on #Project84

This week, CALM launched a new campaign with our partner Harry’s and the support of ITV. #Project84 tells the stories of 84 men lost to suicide, representing the 84 men who take their own lives every week in the UK. Here’s CALM’s CEO Simon Gunning on creating the campaign.

CALM CEO Simon Gunning with artist Mark Jenkins

What is #Project84 all about?

#Project84 is about creating change. The campaign was designed to raise the issue of male suicide in the public consciousness, not only by sharing a horrific fact – that 84 men take their own lives every week – but also, crucially, by making this fact human. Through #Project84 we’re telling the stories behind the statistics – built with the people that have lost loved ones to suicide at its very heart – which builds a movement around the issue and acts as a platform for change.

How did it come together?

#Project84 would not have been possible without the involvement of the families and friends of 84 real men lost to suicide. This campaign is theirs. They helped to build the 84 sculptures which sit at the heart of #Project84 – each representing a loved one who has taken their own life. It was a fascinating process and what nobody expected was how much of a thoroughly positive experience it was for all involved.

Working with families and friends bereaved by suicide was an opportunity not only to remember those who died but also to honour those left behind. Every single person involved was so motivated to get involved and build momentum because they want to prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal. It’s such an overwhelming generosity of spirit to think of others and be hopeful in the face of tragedy and trauma. I was totally humbled.

Why sculptures?

We worked with a great artist, Mark Jenkins and his collaborator Sandra Fernandez, on #Project84 as we knew he would be able to help us create sculptures which were symbolic and emotive. They serve to represent the men who took their own lives, without any intention to resemble anyone directly. This was really important.

We wanted to highlight a problem that’s bigger than any one individual story, which is why the 84 sculptures stand together. They are in a stance of strength and defiance, looking out over a busy city – full of regular people living their lives – as a reminder that suicide is too silent a problem, too easy to ignore.

What’s the impact?

We have been overwhelmed by positive responses to #Project84 and an outpouring of emotion and desire for things to change. Through the campaign, thousands of people have come together – raising their voices, taking a stand against suicide, and showing that it really doesn’t have to be this way. This fuels hope, and hope fuels action.

We have a petition running as part of #Project84 which is calling for government action on suicide, led by the wonderful Matthew Smith, who lost his brother Dan to suicide 13 years ago. In less than a week, 140,000 people signed it. If you haven’t yet, please do: www.change.org/project84

In bringing the issue to light through #Project84 we’re building a movement CALM has been fuelling for eleven years so far. We’re the Campaign Against Living Miserably after all. #Project84, like all our campaigns, embodies this simple mission. Thank you so much to everyone who has been involved.

Explore the stories of #Project84 and join the campaign here.

 


Have you been affected by suicide? The Support After Suicide Partnership is a hub for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide, where you can find emotional and practical support.

Need support? Worried about someone? CALM’s helpline and webchat are open daily 5pm-midnight. Get access here. 

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