A man who created a social media group to help people who feel suicidal was left stunned with the incredible results brought by the initiative.
Craig Spillane decided to create a platform where anyone struggling with mental health can open up and talk about their sufferings after some of his friends admitted to feeling suicidal.
The all-male Facebook group, Men Unite, was started with a handful of guys but just after a month, the group had already got more than 5,000 members.
Members post about anything they’re struggling with to get advice, or just a listening ear, from other members.
“I just came up with the idea one day while I was sat on the toilet – I’ve got a couple of close pals that had confided in me that they felt suicidal and one in particular really hit home, because I could see that he was like a younger version of me,” Craig told LADbible.
“I was in his position 20 years ago – I had a cocaine addiction, I was lying to my missus about money… and he was doing the same.
“It spiraled from there; it got me thinking deeper. A lot of the problems men face come from the fact that they won’t talk about their feelings so I created this group, just as a platform for men to speak.”
He reached out to his friend Kian Feiza-Anaraki and the two of them created the social media group.
“At first I thought I’d maybe get 20 or 30 people in there,” Craig said. “But in the first day I ended up with 110 and I thought, ‘Hang on, there’s something in this.’ People began sharing their experiences and their stories.
“We had people posting about their depression, suffering with anxiety, feeling suicidal, people who had been abused as children.
“People are putting their stories out there and other people are reading them, who have maybe been in that situation themselves, and they able to give them advice. For other people it’s just a chance for them to get it off their chest and to talk about whatever is bothering them.”
In addition to consoling each other online, the members have even taken their friendships off the internet. The first meet-up was arranged just after two weeks of the launch.
“We decided to put on a football match,” Craig said. “I know football can be divisive but we wanted to use it to bring people together.
“We put out an invite and I was expecting to get maybe 10 or 15 people turning up; I thought we could put on a little five or seven-a-side, but 47 people turned.
“Others who don’t like football have arranged fishing events – we’ve had a group of 30 men go on a run and 20 meet up to go on a bike ride.
“We’ve got one man who has autism and he’d not left the house for nine months; he thought he had no friends, but he came out last week to the football meet up and he’s had people going ’round to his house for tea. It’s heart-warming.”
Craig is now hoping to further expand his efforts. He plans to do so by organizing more meet-ups and by registering Men Unite as a community interest company.
He is currently trying to raise funds to build a headquarter where members can come in anytime to have a chat and a cup of coffee with their mates.
Craig is also planning to initiate a regular podcast to discuss the problems men face.
“We did a podcast for a local group recently,” Craig said. “I think it’s a really good platform to help spread our message and help remove some of the stigma.”
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