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Football professionals back suicide prevention partnership in national campaign

28 Apr 2022

England manager Gareth Southgate has backed a partnership - led by the League Managers Association (LMA) and the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham -which aims to help prevent suicide, as it is rolled out across the country following a successful launch in Greater Manchester in 2021

To kick-start the national rollout of this ground-breaking partnership, a new film has been created featuring Gareth Southgate, Andy Burnham, all 20 Premier League managers and EFL and WSL managers. The film aims to use the managers’ influence and reach to raise awareness of free online suicide prevention training, which nearly two million people across the country have taken so far.

The training is a crucial part of the Shining a Light on Suicide campaign, run by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership since 2019. The award-winning campaign works to bring the word suicide out of the dark, so that everyone can confidently start open and honest conversations about suicide and suicidal feelings.

Suicidal thoughts are more common than people realise, with suicide being the biggest killer of men under 49 and women aged 20 to 34. Research shows that using the word ‘suicide’ appropriately lets other people know it is ok to talk about suicidal feelings and that the person asking is there to listen.

The film features managers of professional football teams and football leagues to ensure it is far reaching.

The 20-minute Zero Suicide Alliance training course, which is available for free to the public nationwide, helps participants to recognise the warning signs that someone may be thinking about suicide, understand how to ask them if they are thinking about suicide and help them access appropriate support.

England Manager and LMA President Gareth Southgate, said: “It was educational for me watching and going through the Zero Suicide Alliance course.

“I would definitely recommend that everybody takes the 20-minute online course. It’s changed how I thought about providing support, it’s changed the type of language I might use and it’s probably made me think about being more direct with people.“ 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “Mental health is in many ways the issue of our times. Yet we have a lot more to do to prevent suicide and break the taboo around suicide by having these most difficult conversations. We know that small actions can make all the difference for someone who is in distress.

“Greater Manchester’s Shining a Light on Suicide campaign is a ground-breaking campaign helping to save lives by bringing suicide out of the dark.

“By working with the LMA to shine a light on suicide we will reach people who would have otherwise been missed and together we will save lives.”

LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan said: “We are really honoured, in partnership with the Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, to support such an important and impactful initiative.

“Phase one took place in 2021 and was really successful with 25 managers, who had managed or played for clubs in Greater Manchester, supporting the ‘Shining a Light on Suicide’ initiative. Following that launch, the number of people accessing the Zero Suicide Alliance online training increased by approximately 485% in a week. So it was really important this time around that we helped promote the Zero Suicide Alliance training course on a national basis with the support of LMA members and LMA President Gareth Southgate.”

Professor Joe Rafferty CBE, Zero Suicide Alliance co-founder said: “Anyone can be affected by suicide. Even the most successful people can experience suicidal thoughts. We know that when you’re worried someone may be considering suicide, it can be difficult to know what to do or say. Asking someone a very simple question like, ‘how are you feeling today’? might seem intrusive, but often it provides the opportunity for someone in distress to open up. It is likely to protect them from suicide – not increase their risk.

“Our suicide awareness training coaches you in how to have a potentially lifesaving conversation and we’re delighted to be a part of the Shining a Light on Suicide campaign. The more people feel able to talk about suicide, the more potential there is to save lives."

More information:

  • Suicide affects us all. Encourage someone to talk before suicide seems their only option. Together we can help prevent suicide. Find out how at Shining a Light on Suicide (If you live outside of Greater Manchester, you can find local suicide prevention support through your local health and social care service).
  • If you’re struggling to cope, call Samaritans on 116 123.
  • Colleagues can access our Employee Assistance Programme, a specialist external provider of wellbeing and mental health support services. Support is free and anonymous.
  • Take the free Zero Suicide Alliance 20-minute training to learn how to save a life which is available to access nationwide.
  • If you are bereaved or affected by suicide, support is available at Greater Manchester Bereavement Service. For those living outside of Greater Manchester you can find local bereavement support on the NHS website.