Night time may be the loneliest time of day, but for men at-risk with their mental health, it can be the deadliest, as sleep disturbances are associated with a threefold increase in completed suicides and suicides are four times more likely to occur at night.
Despite these harrowing facts, male call volumes to Samaritans historically decreased from 10pm onwards, even though the Samaritan's operate a 24/7 service. We needed to completely flip our media strategy, from public moments in the day, to private moments at night.
Our idea was Lighting the dark hours, a strategy that dedicated most of our annual budget to the hours of 6pm-6am to reach at-risk men when they might be at their most vulnerable, alone in the dark, with no one to talk to and using media as a distraction. By changing our approach, we helped at-risk men face the isolation of lockdown, increasing the number of them contacting Samaritans in the most crucial of twilight hours.