Here are the highlights from an interview with the formidable Alice Hendy.
What motivated you to start R;pple and join the fight against male suicide?
On 25th November 2020, I received a knock on my front door from two police officers. They asked to come inside, sat down, and told me that my brother had taken his own life. Josh was 21 years old, my only sibling, and my best friend.
Since that pivotal moment in my life, I’ve made it my mission to stop this indescribable pain from happening to any other sisters, in memory and honour of my brother.
With over 700,000 people dying by suicide every year globally, I knew it was a cause worth fighting for. Alarming as this number is, it can hardly measure the emotional toll on families and communities. Which is just devastating.
Male suicide remains a pressing issue in the UK, where suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50 (Mental Health Foundation, 2021). Men are more vulnerable due to multiple factors like stigma, lack of mental health awareness, and reluctance to seek help. Changing mindsets isn’t easy, nor does it happen overnight - and it’s great to see organisations like Tough to Talk working in this direction.
What unique approach does R;pple bring to the conversation around male mental health?
When going through Josh’s phone, laptop, and tablet in an attempt to look for answers around why my brother thought suicide was his best option, I discovered that Josh had been researching ways and means to end his life via harmful online searches. I realised there was a significant lack of intervention for individuals carrying out these searches and so I came up with the idea of R;Apple.
R;pple is a digital tool, which if a user searches for harmful content online, they will first be guided through a filter of breathing exercises and then very simple, uncluttered and calmly presented strategies and forums, help lines and mental health services they can access both now and longer term: accompanied with messages of hope and encouragement to keep safe. Nothing like R;pple exists. It’s a unique approach to supporting individuals experiencing suicidal ideation at their most vulnerable point, and it’s saving lives.
Driving adoption for R;pple among men is very close to my heart. We collaborate with traditionally male-dominated environments, such as football and rugby clubs, to reach men where they are most comfortable and engage in conversations around mental health.
In the UK, sport plays a significant role in the lives of countless men. Clubs serve as a community and a source of identity, creating a unique opportunity to promote mental health awareness.
West Ham United is one of the football clubs that adopted R;pple to protect their players and staff, and are actively campaigning about our work in suicide prevention. We are immensely grateful for their support as it has the potential to save numerous lives and reshape the way society views and addresses male mental health and suicide.
Acknowledging the transformative power of sports, two years ago we launched our own R;pple FC. Run by our colleague and volunteer, Harrison Read, the team is playing to make a difference for those struggling with mental health.
How do you envision our partnership making a significant impact in this cause?
Tough to Talk are closely aligned with our mission in encouraging individuals to open up about how they are feeling when things get tough. There is no weakness in asking for help, and we both exist to ensure that support is given to people at their most vulnerable point to ultimately save lives and prevent suicide. By partnering with likeminded organisations, our voice will be louder, and our work in preventing suicide will be more powerful.
Watch this space.
Keep an eye out for more content, insights and life-saving partnership updates.