Martial artists in Hastings have raised £1,000 to help combat worryingly high levels of male suicides across the country.
Five black belts taught masterclasses at the Gracie Barra Hastings Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy in exchange for donations to the Men Don’t Talk campaign - a not for profit social enterprise run by volunteers.
The packed event at the school’s Earl Street home, highlighted how thousands of men take their own lives every year.
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Professors Paul Bridges, Ali Bayley, Owen Elphick, Mark Dayrell and Sam Sharples each taught a selection of their favourite techniques.
Paul Bridges, head instructor at GB Hastings, said many students had first-hand experience of losing loved ones in such tragic circumstances.
“It’s a subject that’s very close to all of our hearts – and we are overwhelmed by the generosity shown by everyone that attended,” he said.
The event was supported by Buckswood School – whose student, Charlie Mepham, ran the raffle - Rye Chocolates, Freedom Leisure, Broken Arrow magazine and Mowgli restaurant.
Money raised will provide counselling sessions for vulnerable men and encourage them to share their problems and feelings.
Men Don’t Talk founder Jason Lawrence said: “A very special thanks to all that attended, donated, and continue to promote talking and reaching out in challenging times. Mental illness shouldn’t be a taboo subject. No matter how big or strong someone is, it doesn’t make them any less vulnerable.”
There were 6,213 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland during 2017 – 4,694 men and 1,519 women, according to the annual suicide statistics report from The Samaritans. The study revealed men were three times as likely to take their own lives than women and the highest suicide rate in the UK was for males aged 45-49.
“We must continue to target expertise and resources at preventing men from taking their own lives,” it concluded.
Gracie Barra Hastings, which has been running since the mid-1990s, has forged a reputation in the town for hosting events to raise money for local charities.
It raised £650 for Hastings Foodbank from an interclub tournament and put on a wrestling masterclass evening that made £300 for the Demelza Hospice Care for Children.
The academy, whose students range from three-years-old to 77-years-old, runs classes every day. If you are interested ring Bridges on: 07967 659867 or visit www.graciebarrahastings.com.