Top London barber shop wants to tackle male suicide by giving men the chance to open up in chair

Francesca Gillett
Pall Mall Barbers has been in business for more than 120 years: Dan Davies

A top-rated central London barbers is hoping to help tackle male suicide by inspiring men to open up about their feelings while in the chair.

Pall Mall Barbers is urging other hairdressers across London to follow suit and join a nationwide brotherhood of barber shops aiming to combat the devastatingly-high rates of male suicide.

Called the Lions Barber Collective, the group’s idea is for barbers to use their one-on-one time with customers to offer a listening ear to men who may be suffering from depression or other mental health problems.

Dan Davies, 35, who is general manager of the traditional men’s grooming shop, told the Standard: “What people tend to do is build a bit of a relationship with their hairdressers.

“It’s like a friend but not somebody there all the time. So we tend to confide in barbers or hairdressers.

Dan Davies, who said the initiative is about giving men the option to open up about their mental health. (Dan Davies)

“Barbers see so many different people,” he said. “I don’t think there’s another trade in the world where you interact with so many different people.

“Once you get to know your clients, you can tell if some things are not quite right. Through that you can make a bit of an effort.

“Just by simply asking how they are, or going a bit beyond and asking if they want to grab a coffee.

“Actually having a conversation with people, it can make a big difference.

“It could be that they are really lonely. We have had people who have had really nasty break-ups and completely broken down.

Top-rated: The barber shop has branches across central London. (Dan Davies)

“Some men will come in quite regularly for a haircut and they don’t need one. So you interact with them.

“You don’t need training to listen to people. We are not trying to be doctors or prescribe things or change the world. We just want people to be like, if you’re struggling, speak. We can have a chat.”

Mr Davies, who lives in Surrey, added: “I’d urge barbers across the world to get involved. When you consider the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide, that’s not right.

“We have all been at a point in our lives embarrassed to ask for help. You don’t want your families and friends to judge you.”

But the barber said they “never dig or pry too much” and added: “You tend to move with the conversation.”

Pall Mall Barbers, which was founded over 120 years ago and now has branches in Bishopsgate, Westminster, Trafalgar Square and Fitzrovia, joined the Lions Barbers Collective one year ago.

The international initiative now organises events across the UK to promote what it has coined as BarberTalk, tips and advice which can help train barbers to “recognise, talk, listen and advise”.

It aims to change the stereotype of male-dominated spaces being devoid of talk about feelings.

More than 6,000 British people die from suicide each year, with 75 per cent of them being male. Across the world, the World Health Organisation estimates that around 3,000 people kill themselves daily.

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