It’s widely known that canaries helped to prevent the death of miners in the pits. Now, Norwich City Football team, affectionally called the Canaries, are doing their bit to prevent unnecessary deaths.
Back in the 1800s, miners would carry canaries in small boxes as they headed into the pit for work. This was a potentially life-saving strategy in an environment where odourless, invisible gases posed a threat to life.
Due to their small size and rapid heart rate, the canaries would quickly succumb to the effects of toxic gases like carbon dioxide. The miners would see the birds collapse and know that the mine was unsafe. Fortunately, the bird boxes were fitted with oxygen pumps. A few presses and the canary would be resuscitated, ready to help protect the miner another day.
The Canaries Mental Health Video
Norwich City are known as The Canaries and this month, they have been doing their bit to protect people from harm.
Tuesday 10 October was World Mental Health Day and to mark the occasion, the football team released a video on social media. It shows clips of two supporters as they enjoy highlights of the season; one is animated, the other reserved. The message shared with the video is:
“At times, it can be obvious when someone is struggling to cope, but sometimes the signs are harder to spot.”
This video shares a strong suicide prevention message and has been watched by millions. It has received considerably more media coverage than the team’s draw with Coventry City on the previous weekend! It has been widely praised for promoting an important message.
The Signs that Someone is Struggling With Mental Health
There can be signs that someone is struggling with their mental health. These include changes in behaviour, such as becoming more withdrawn, eating more or less than usual or getting frustrated or overwhelmed more easily. The issue is that it is easy to dismiss these signs; they’ve had a busy week or didn’t get enough sleep last night.
Equally, some people are masters of disguise. They are struggling with mental health on the inside but present a convincing façade. They don’t want others to know what they are thinking or feeling. This could be due to many factors including:
- Believing that nobody else will understand
- Not wanting to be a burden – they’ve got enough on their plate already
- Being expected to be ‘the strong one’
- Fearing being judged
- Wanting to deal with things in their own way
Due to explaining away or covering up symptoms, it can be incredibly difficult to spot the signs that someone is struggling with mental health.
Many people who have lost a friend, family member or colleague to suicide feel guilt that they didn’t spot the signs. They repeatedly go over situations and conversations, thinking about what might have indicated a problem. They scrutinise what they said or did and this adds to the trauma of the event.
We can help others through open conversations, being there for them, listening and not judging. We can be kind and supportive, no matter what mood they are in. However, we will never know everything that is in someone else’s head and we can’t be responsible for every action they take.
Men at Greatest Risk of Suicide
Poor mental health can affect people of all ages, backgrounds and genders, however, men account for three-quarters of all UK deaths by suicide. This has been consistent for decades.
Research published by Samaritans* explored the correlation between gender and suicide. It suggests that men are less likely to access healthcare services than women and are more likely to use more lethal methods when they decide to end their life.
The canaries’ video focuses on two men; friends who share an interest and meet up regularly. It reminds us how important it is to check in on our friends. As men are less likely to open up, it can be a challenge to have difficult conversations, yet, asking how someone is and listening could save a life.