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Roman Kemp: Our silent emergency

Why this is such an important programme to watch …

I don’t know whether you watched this BBC programme last week, but I’d really encourage you to take an hour out of your day, with a cuppa.

If you didn’t know, Roman Kemp is a national radio breakfast DJ and tv celebrity. Last summer, Roman’s best friend and radio show producer, Joe, committed suicide. Roman and his friends didn’t suspect a thing. Joe was only 31 years old. Roman found out that seven other younger men had taken their own lives on that same day. As part of Roman’s own grieving, he decided to find out more about why those young men had decided to end their lives.

The reason why I encourage you to watch this documentary is to witness the raw emotion and love that comes from Roman, plus the friends of these men; especially the group of 15-year-old lads whose friend took his own life without any hint there may be something wrong. They talk about love, loss and regret.

The balance in this filming is excellent and Roman goes on to explore the issues behind men’s mental health with care and honour.

One of the excellent learning points was from one group of friends who now say that they ask ‘are you okay?’ twice. Not once, but twice.

Now they ask and they get a ‘yeah, sure, I’m fine’ in response. But then they ask again: ‘are you really okay?’. They then find that they may get a very different answer, or that the other person gives the question a bit more thought:

‘No, it’s okay, I am okay’ or ‘actually, no I’m not okay’.

How simple is that? A basic rule: ask ‘are you okay?’ twice.

The other learning point (and this may seem obvious, but it really isn’t obvious to many people) is that every story in this documentary involved talking about how they feel; whether it is the person feeling suicidal or the person grieving for the loss of a friend. Everyone pointed to the freedom and release from pain when they talked and shared their feelings.

It’s so easy to believe that it’s only us feeling how we feel, or that we are losing our minds, or that we are a burden on others, or that people would be better off without us, or that we should be over it by now. But none of that is true. Honestly, none of that is true.

So, if talking is the answer, what’s the question: Are you okay? Are you really okay?


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