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Our Story

In Canada, men have a suicide rate three times higher than women. Why? We have socialized men to be strong, stoic and self-reliant; showing emotion is a sign of weakness, as is asking for help. Further, men are underserved by our traditional health and social service sectors. Men are dying in alarming numbers, all around us, alone. How can we change this reality?

Making the campaign possible

At Centre for Suicide Prevention, we knew that men’s suicide prevention had to become a significant part of our work. In 2016, 100 Men Who Give a Damn Calgary donated $10,000 for the creation of a men’s suicide prevention campaign and in 2019, Calgary Herald Christmas Fund donated $60,000.

Bringing the guys together

We knew why men’s suicide was an issue, but we didn’t know how to reach men and prevent it from happening. We scoured the research and examined many men’s mental health programs from around the world. Next, we needed to hear from men themselves. We hosted a men’s breakfast where 60 men came together and engaged with a male facilitator to tell us what worked, what didn’t, and what was going on in their worlds. We gathered a lot of information. From there, we struck a majority-male advisory committee that guided the project, as well as all-male focus groups that tested our work as we went along.

Learning what works

The guys we heard from told us that they needed to know how to recognize a buddy who may be struggling, and how to help. They discussed how to start a conversation and how to keep it going. And how hard that really is. And they said we needed to make it as easy as possible to promote the overall message. Possibly even fun. The advisory group developed practical, real conversation starters, like, “Hey Amir, how are you really doing?”. Then they identified specific mechanisms to get the message across, like branded air fresheners, stickers. Through this input, the Buddy Up campaign was born.

Getting the campaign going

We had planned to launch the Buddy Up campaign September 2020. However, community need (ie COVID-19) and generous donations from Pattison Outdoor Advertising, Atom Graphics and Kyle Metcalfe Design, invited us to pivot and ‘pre-launch’ on billboards in spring of 2020. Four months of billboard promotion helped catalyze our official launch of September 2020, where over 100 Champions – individuals and organizations – signed on as ambassadors of the campaign. The Champions directly promoted men’s suicide prevention throughout the month. Going forward, the Buddy Up campaign will run one month a year.

Our First TV Ad

Our team worked hard to produce a TV commercial featuring the Buddy Up campaign. Thanks to generous donations by an anonymous donor and Shaw Communications Inc., this commercial is airing on CTV and Shaw TV channels throughout November and December 2020.  The commercial aims to spread awareness and direct people right here – to this website, where you can learn more about how to help a buddy and sign up to become a champion. This website was made possible by a generous donation from Servus Credit Union.

About the Centre for
Suicide Prevention

The Centre for Suicide Prevention is a branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. For 35+ years we have been equipping Canadians with knowledge and skills to respond to people at risk of suicide.
We educate for life.