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How the metal community can help those struggling with their mental health

Following the suicides of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, Hammer speaks to the experts about how we can take positive action to help those struggling with mental health problems

Become a volunteer

Giving your time to others is invaluable. Samaritans volunteer Diogo Duarte tells us how their helpline can save lives

Volunteering for the Samaritans always seemed like an obvious choice for Diogo Duarte. “If you’re not scared to talk about death and self- harm and have difficult conversations, you can make a real difference,” says the 30-year-old, who lives in Clapham and volunteers at the central London branch. He tells us he’s always been fascinated by human psychology, but it’s also his love of metal that helped him address those often tricky topics.

“I’ve been a metal fan since I was 14 years old,” he says. “Having been a goth as a teenager, these issues about mental health and suicide never frightened me. Talk of self-harm, suicidal ideation and depression wasn’t unheard of in my close group of friends. It was a really supportive community because it was so easy to talk about those things.”

Diogo has worked in mental health-related roles since 2010, and joined the Samaritans as a Service Improvement Officer, working on their suicide prevention and support programme for schools and colleges, last year. He volunteers on their helplines outside of his staff role.

“We’re there to allow people to reach out and talk and be themselves,” he explains. “They can talk about how they’re feeling without having someone on the other end telling them that they must feel differently. Sometimes, being listened to in a nonjudgemental way will make someone feel better, sometimes it won’t. But it’s not our role to fix it or get them out of that state. It’s a nice side effect if it happens, but our objective is more passive about that, because telling someone they’ve got a million reasons to be happy when they’re depressed isn’t helpful.”

Samaritans require all volunteers to undergo a training course of several weeks (the length varies between branches) involving a few hours each week. “It’s very role-play heavy, which used to scare the shit out of me!” laughs Diogo. “I absolutely felt at the end that I was equipped to deal with it. When you pick up the phone or open an email you still have no idea what you’re going to get.”

Volunteering can be difficult. “It’s challenging when you hear someone is struggling really badly to the point of taking their own life. When you put the phone down, you don’t know what happens next,” says Diogo. But there are uplifting moments, too. “It’s rewarding when people say thank you and that you’ve made a real difference. That’s when it really hits you why you’re doing it.”


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