Former Irish international rugby star Shane Byrne is encouraging men to talk about their mental health as part of World Suicide Prevention Day.
A number of other international rugby stars are also involved in the global campaign, organised by the Movember Foundation, a charity committed to changing men’s health.
Its primary aim is to reduce the rate of male suicide by 25%, by 2030.
“Every minute, somewhere in the world, a man dies by suicide,” says the foundation. “That’s 80 sons, husbands, brothers, and fathers for every 80-minute game of the Rugby World Cup 2019.”
Director of Movember Ireland Jack O’Connor said: “The increasing number of men who take their own lives, both around the world and here in Ireland, is alarming. We’re working toward a world where men and boys look after their mental health and are comfortable reaching out to others for support when they’re struggling.”
“According to new research, men would most commonly talk to their friends if they were finding it hard to cope with personal problems. But 25% of men say they would be unlikely to do so, showing many men still don’t turn to their mates, even when they need them most.”
Recruiting rugby players Shane Byrne (Ireland), George North (Wales), Dylan Hartley (England), James Horwill (Australia), and Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), the charity has created a powerful video to encourage men to use the half-time break in each game of the Rugby World Cup to talk to a friend.
Byrne, who appeared 41 times for Ireland and played in four tests for the British and Irish Lions, during their 2005 tour of New Zealand, said: “Rugby teaches you how to deal with problems on the pitch and overcome them as a team.
“But, for some reason, blokes aren’t as comfortable asking for help off the pitch. Guys need to understand there’s nothing wrong with speaking up, if they’re struggling with something.”
Shane added: “You wouldn’t try to solve a problem alone during a game, so it doesn’t make sense that blokes think they have to do that in the real world.”