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Case study: #Savethemale

Generating vital awareness and discussion around male suicide

Published: 13 Jan 2017

Save the male

Client: CALM - The Campaign Against Living Miserably

Agency: Hanover Communications

Campaign: #Savethemale - raising awareness and money to prevent male suicide

Timescale: N/A

A quick look

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45, who account for 75% of all UK suicides. The #Savethemale campaign aimed to raise public awareness of male suicide while driving support and donations for the charity CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) and its BBC Lifeline Appeal. Led by hip hop artist Professor Green, #Savethemale trended on Twitter (a first) and got 17.5 million social media impressions as well as significant traditional media coverage.

It gained social media support from celebrities including Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais and Lily Allen. There was a 700% increase in CALM Facebook fans and public donations more than doubled. #Savethemale led to a Panorama documentary and parliamentary debate on male suicide. At the end of 2015, awareness of suicide as the biggest killer of young men had risen from 20% to 29%.


Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45, who account for 75% of all UK suicides. However, public awareness was low with only 20% of the population aware of suicide’s status as the biggest single cause of death among young men. CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a charity dedicated to preventing male suicide. In January 2015, it had a slot on the BBC Lifeline Appeal, a monthly 10 minute programme broadcast on BBC One highlighting the work of a charity and appealing for donations.

Previous BBC Lifeline Appeals had struggled to make an impact and male suicide has traditionally been seen as a ‘heart-sink’ issue. The time slot for the appeal - late on a Sunday afternoon, following Songs of Praise - also made it a tough communications challenge. CALM asked for Hanover Communications’ support to make the appeal a success


Hanover identified social media as a powerful, cost-effective way to achieve the campaign’s aims. Hanover and CALM identified high profile individuals to tell the story of male suicide: British hip hop artist Professor Green presented the appeal, speaking candidly about his father’s suicide. There were also contributions from the family of Hector Stringer, who committed suicide when he was 18, and comedian Jake Mills, who attempted suicide.

Hanover shared film content via social media, using the hashtag #SaveTheMale, targeting relevant influencers across politics, entertainment and media, particularly those with a known interest in mental health. Hanover used statistics about male suicide to create additional content. CALM trailed the appeal’s broadcast on its website, Facebook and Twitter feeds and worked with the charity’s ambassadors Professor Green, David Baddiel, the BBC and Hanover to encourage people to watch and share the film.


The Lifeline Appeal trended on Twitter (a first) and got 17.5 million social media impressions. It gained support on Twitter from people and institutions linked to mental health such as Stephen Fry, Alastair Campbell, Norman Lamb MP and the Department of Health, and also from influencers including Lily Allen, Ricky Gervais, Rizzle Kicks, Susannah Reid, Movember UK and Topman. Visits to the CALM website on the day of the appeal increased over 160% compared to the previous week and there was a 700% increase in Facebook fans. There was also significant print, online and radio coverage.

Interest and momentum led to a parliamentary debate on male suicide on International Men’s Day in November 2015, and to the BBC commissioning a Panorama documentary featuring CALM’s work. By the end of 2015, 29% of the public cited suicide as the leading killer of men under 45 - a rise of 9% over the previous year. The appeal raised £22,254 for CALM, one of the largest amounts ever raised through a Lifeline Appeal. In the following months, CALM’s public donations rose to £109,150 from £41,293 in the same quarter of the previous year, enabling the charity to take on more staff and increase its helpline capacity.

Client verdict

"2015 was an amazing year for generating vital awareness and discussion around a devastating topic that has too often been ignored. Social media was crucial in helping us to drive awareness around our campaigns, allowing us to reach whole new audiences and getting thousands more people talking about male suicide.” Jane Powell, CEO, CALM

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