Adrian Jackson from Cardboard Citizens discusses the stark realities of male suicide and homelessness
Earlier this month, Cardboard Citizens partnered with local mental health charity MIND in Haringey to present Take A Minute at the Pleasance Theatre, a new piece of work-in-progress-theatre tackling issues surrounding male suicide.
Over a two week process we created the piece based on the interviews and workshops we facilitated with people a ected by suicide. The resulting performance explored the barriers, myths and preventative methods around the subject and included both an interactive Forum Theatre section, allowing the audience to ‘intervene’ in the story and rehearse how they might influence the outcome, and a post-show Q&A to open up the discussion to the floor.
For more than 25 years, Cardboard Citizens has successfully shared stories of those affected by homelessness for all who care to listen and learn. Whilst the issue of mental health is not new to us as a company – nearly two out of three people affected by homelessness have experienced trauma or a mental health issue – this is the first time Cardboard Citizens have looked in depth at the issue of suicide, exploring how we can adapt the Forum Theatre model to rehearse interventions in this area, with appropriate support and guidance.
While the play in this instance didn’t touch on homelessness, it is the first part of a wider programme to be developed in response to the continuing surge in homelessness and the increasing acknowledgement of the connection to mental health issues – especially experience of trauma – for those affected by or are at risk of homelessness.
Take A Minute wasn’t about why someone chooses to take their own life, it’s about the way the noise of life impacts on our ability to listen, to pick up on the cues given, and to be brave in our response. In creating Take A Minute the challenge was to ensure our focus remains on those bereaved by suicide. The inclusion of a Forum section gave the audience a way to explore whether there was a way they could intervene when they suspect someone is in need of support. As the Forum revealed, it’s about being human and standing alongside those with mental health concerns.
The process of Take A Minute would have been impossible without the generosity and courage of those who sent their testimonies detailing their loss, those bereaved by suicide. They inspired our initial devising process.
The other key ingredient was the Mental Health First Aid training from MIND detailing best practice when confronted by someone planning to take their own life. Mental health in the homeless community is at crisis point. When you consider the fact that homeless people are nine times more likely to take their lives through suicide, it brings into stark reality just how serious this issue is. We already have accumulated evidence regarding the powerful impact of our work in exploring and raising awareness of mental health issues, and we hope to build on Take A Minute and all our many projects to continue this in as many communities as possible.
Cardboard Citizens is a homeless charity and theatre company based in Whitechapel. We area the UK’s leading practitioners of the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology.
Where to seek support in Tottenham?
What? HAIL provides professional care and support on issues including housing, learning and relationships, to people with learning and physical disabilities, mental health issues and autism.
Where? Tottenham Town hall, Town Hall Approach Road N15 4RY Visit hailltd.org/index.php
Call 020 8275 6550
What? The Thinking Space initiative was piloted in Tottenham for two years (October 2013 to September 2015) and has since been extended across Haringey. Thinking Space meetings o er individuals the opportunity to talk about the issues that are concerning them with other members of the community.
To find out more, click here.
Your local GP
- 1 in 4 people will be a ected by poor mental health in their lifetimes
- Only 230 of 300 people affected by Mental Health issue will seek help from their GP
Call 116 123