Lifestyle

Do you know the ‘two-okay’ rule to help save someone from suicide?

Roman Kemp BBC documentary explores male mental health

When someone takes their own life, the people left behind are very often left floundering as to what or how they could have prevented the death.

A new documentary, Our Silent Emergency, sets out to explore not only the escalating problem of suicide in our country but also solutions to the problem.

Hosted by TV and radio presenter Roman Kemp, who lost his own friend and co-worker Joe Lyons to suicide, the BBC show explores the mental health crisis affecting young men in particular.

In the programme, which aired earlier this month and is still available on iPlayer, Roman shines a light on how to truly check-in on your mates with the ‘ask twice’ rule.

[Credit: Roman Kemp]

Chatting to a group of friends who lost their pal Ashley to suicide, Roman meets Lysander, Olly and Tom who open up about the death three years ago.

During the conversation, Lysander explained, “It’s still hard every day,” before adding, “I’m not going to sugar-coat it, it can be difficult, but we take each day as it comes.”

He continued: “We would talk before, but it wasn’t as in-depth. Now we have the two-okay rule. We ask, ‘How are you doing? But how are you doing, really – mentally?”

Clearly touched by their insight, Roman said: “I love that. The two-okay rule. If you don’t mind, I’m going to use that.

“I wish I’d said to Joe, ‘Mate, I know you know this but I’m going to tell you again. I am that person that you can talk to about that stuff.’”

[Credit: Roman Kemp]

Roman and his bestie were joined at the hip, living just three minutes apart while also working together as Joe held the position of Senior Producer at Capital Breakfast on Roman’s show.

Sadly, in August 2020, Joe took his own life without even hinting that he was struggling.

The two-okay rule is also used by Time to Change, a nationwide mental health social movement, who coined the ‘Ask Twice’ campaign.

In their mission statement, they explain: “One in four of us experience a mental health problem in any year. And worryingly, the current restrictions on our lives mean men are missing out on support from those around them.

“So, if a mate says he’s fine, he might not be. A second, ‘How are you?’ can make all the difference.”

[Credit: Professor O’Connor / Six-Step Safety Plan]

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. It is reported that 5,691 deaths by suicide take place annually – that’s an average of 18 per day.

In the documentary, Roman, 28, also opens up about his own mental health struggles and reveals has been taking medication since he was 15 to deal with depression and anxiety.

Asked why he believes men are taking their lives in such vast numbers, Professor O’Connor, director of the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory, said they can often feel “a sense of entrapment” over life stresses and they struggle to see any alternative way out.

O’Connor said: “This is why it can be crucial to let them know you’re there if they ever need to talk. People who die by suicide are usually trapped by mental pain, that they feel a burden on others.”

To help people who feel they are a risk to themselves, O’Connor has developed a six-step safety plan to follow and identify warning signs along with techniques to keep safe.

It is worth sharing with everyone you know!

For free confidential advice, call the Samaritans 116 123 (24 hours, seven days a week).

You can also email: jo@samaritans.org

If you feel you or someone might be in immediate danger, call 999.

To watch the documentary, click here: Roman Kemp.

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