Tom Chapman with former Torquay United defender Angus MacDonald
The Lions Barber Collective was launched on 10th September 2015, World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s made up of 30 barbers from all over Europe who have a passion for the prevention of male suicide and want to raise more awareness for mental health. They want to use their platform to provide a counselling service through barbers, hoping this will allow men to talk with their barber about their problems more openly, and in an environment that they are comfortable in. They’ve named the initiative BarberTalk.
Inspired by a tragic loss
Tragedy can so often be cathartic. In the case of Torquay-based barber Tom Chapman, the suicide of a close friend inspired him to launch The Lions Barber Collective, an organisation passionate about suicide prevention. The Collective's ethos is straightforward. Suicide remains the single biggest killer of males under-45 in Britain. A key component of suicide prevention is being there for anyone experiencing difficulties; listening to them, empathising, simply trying to impress upon them that they are never alone. As a barber, Tom was also aware of the close relationship those of his profession have with their clients. Someone relaxing in a chair might divulge thoughts they would never broach in less intimate circumstances. The person might unwind, share anecdotes, but they can also use these moments to be candid. To confide.
As Tom writes on the home page of The Collective's site "As barbers we are in a unique position to help our clients, through the trust and bond we build with them. An incredibly strong relationship where clients become friends and can share aspect of their lives with us, then walk out the shop and leave it behind knowing it goes no further because of client confidentiality and the fact we are often not in their social circle."
Interview with Tom Chapman:
Male depression and suicide: The barbers trying to get men to talk about their mental health: