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CALM sign football funny man Jonny Sharples as an ambassador

You may have seen him in one of our campaigns. You may have seen his fictional footballer Ivica Strok doing the rounds in the media. You may also have seen his viral attempt to get a picture of an England footballer in a inflatable unicorn dingy onto the new £50 note. Now you can meet the man behind the retweets (and the parody announcement video below); it’s Twitter Extraordinaire and new CALM ambassador, Jonny Sharples… 

How has working with CALM and sharing your story helped you?

Working with CALM has been of great personal benefit to me in coming to terms with the death of my brother in late 2014. Although suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK, I’d never personally experienced it until Simon died, nor did I know just how prevalent it is. By working alongside CALM, it has help me realise that I was not alone in that regard; there are other people out there with the same questions and similar experiences.

“To us, Simon was extraordinary”

Working with CALM has also allowed me to keep the memory of Simon alive, to feel like I can continue to share in experiences with and alongside him – such as working on Project 84 to make a mannequin representation of him, and feeling in some way that we are making new memories together. Telling his story, and speaking about him to various people and projects, has also allowed me to let the world just how fantastic someone as normal as Simon was. As well as telling everyone how much of an idiot of a big brother he was as well.

I hope, also, by telling Simon’s story, and being open and honest about what both he and my family have experienced that we have helped others in some small way – helped them know that they are not alone, and helped to point those in times of crisis in the direction of CALM.

What does CALM mean to you?

The letters C. A. L. M. are so important to me because they personify the word CALM. And CALM, as a charity, are doing incredible and important work in getting people talking about a subject that’s often been seen as taboo or just completely ignored. It’s fantastic to know that there’s a charity like CALM really pushing for change culturally, socially, and even legislatively while also offering support to people and literally saving lives. I’m extremely proud to be associated with a charity to be doing such amazing work.

The pain of losing young men to suicide is far too common

You’re known for your football chat on Twitter. What role do you think football has to play in regard to the way society views mental health and suicide?

I know the influence that football can have over people, without it I’d have almost nothing to talk about, so it makes sense that the influence of football can be used in a hugely positive way and it certainly has a big role to play in the way we regard mental health and suicide. Although the cultural shift is slowly changing, and certainly for the better, football is still a male dominated community and so it’s ripe to have a discussion around mental health and suicide – especially with men under the age of 45 being the most at risk of dying by suicide.

My mate Sam

We have also seen a shift in the way professional footballers have become more open in their own struggles with mental health; Danny Rose, Marvin Sordell, Clarke Carlisle, Michael Carrick and Steve Harper have all opened up in recent years about their individual issues, and it has highlighted that mental health does not discriminate, and will have also gone some way to break down the stigma that being open about depression or suicide makes you less of a man, or even less of a person. On top of that, role models such as footballers being frank about their mental health may also allow others to open up – fans and fellow professionals alike – and signpost them to charities like CALM who can offer the support that they need.

Get support

Need support? Worried about someone? CALM’s free, anonymous and confidential helpline and webchat are open every day, 5pm-midnight. Get access here. 

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.

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