Speaking up about suicide – lessons from the rugby pitch

The Six Nations 2020 international rugby competition is well under way and a new mental fitness scheme, Ahead of the Game, is using lessons from the rough and tumble of the rugby pitch to help boys open up and talk about their feelings.

Funded by men’s health charity Movember, the mental health programme uses trained ex-players from Rugby Union and League to work with teenage members in community rugby clubs, in the familiar surroundings of their local rugby club changing rooms. The aim is to stop unhappy adolescents becoming the suicide cases of tomorrow.

Suicide is the leading cause of death of men aged 15 to 49, and there is a growing awareness of the risks young men can face, if they do not learn to be open about their mental health.

The programme is being expanded over the next 18 months to 8,000 teenagers, athletes and coaches in 21 cities – mainly in northern England – as part of the Rugby League World Cup 2021.


Organisations and charities offering support and information:

If you, or someone you know, are feeling distressed, the following organisations offer advice and support:

Samaritans is available for anyone struggling to cope and provide a safe place to talk 24 hours a day.

Phone: 116 123


Shout is a 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone struggling to cope and in need of immediate help.

Text SHOUT to 85258


Papyrus is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. 

Phone: 0800 068 41 41


CALM, the campaign against living miserably aims to prevent male suicide in the UK and offers anonymous, confidential listening, information and signposting.

Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily 5pm-midnight)


Lifeline provides support to people suffering distress or despair in Northern Ireland, regardless of age or district.

Phone: 0808 808 8000 (24 hours a day)


Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide exists to meet the needs and break the isolation of those bereaved by the suicide of a close relative or friend.

Phone: 0300 111 5065 (9am to 9pm daily)


Speaking up about suicide – lessons from the rugby pitch
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