'I was lost and I had no purpose': How a total stranger saved a young man's life by encouraging him to discuss his mental health on university campus

  • Suicide is the single biggest killer of young men in the UK
  • Men continue to face social barriers preventing them from seeking help
  • Danni, aged 22, was depressed when a CALM worker 'saved his life' on campus
  • He continues to honour this by raising funds for CALM through 'Beardathons' 

Written by Samantha Lade for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 11:42, 4th Sep 2017 | UPDATED: 15:54, 27th Oct 2017

Lost and Alone

Roughly 76% of suicides since 2015 have been male, suggesting that it is certainly a gendered issue

Mental health conditions are complex and daunting. Many individuals with these illnesses struggle to find a way to cope, and sometimes, to even see a way forward. At the age of 22, Danni Mather from Runcorn is a bass player in a metal band. But since adolescence, he has battled his own mental health demons.

‘For most people it seems, the world just keeps on turning regardless, we all have somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to,’ Danni describes, speaking to the CALM website. 

'But I was lost. I felt as though I was just drifting through my life. I had no purpose and couldn’t find my path. I fell into spells of depression. Some lasted a few weeks - others years.'

Yet for men, the issues arising from mental health problems are incredibly vast. 

Cultural barriers and social stigma have long prohibited them from seeking help when they need it. And shockingly, suicide remains the biggest killer of men aged 45 and under in the UK – with males accounting for over three-quarters of suicides since 2015.

Choosing not to reach for help, Danni continued to fight his battles solo. It wasn’t until a casual walk through his university that his life was suddenly changed.

"I can only imagine the pure terror when I began unloading the past few years of my life upon this poor girl."

- Danni Mather

A Stranger and a Saviour

When he was stopped by a girl with a clipboard one day on campus, Danni initially ignored her questioning, believing she was trying to sell him insurance. 

However, it was at the mention of a cup of tea and “mental health” that he soon spun back around to listen. ‘We sat and spoke about the issues and the statistics until she asked had I been affected by any of these issues,’ recalls Danni. 

I can only imagine the pure terror when I began unloading the past few years of my life upon this poor girl. 

‘She gave me the details of several places, websites and telephone numbers I could call for help and I was on my way. I have no idea who she was, her name or even what she looked like, but she saved my life that day.’

All that Danni knew of his saviour was that she worked for the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) – a mental health charity who focus particularly on preventing male suicide. 

He also knew that she had handed him a crucial lifeline.

‘Almost 12 months since that day on campus I’m still here, and I am still alive.’ shares Danni. ‘This charity helped me turn my life around, offered me the support I needed and gave me the tools I needed to find my feet again.'

In 1981 men accounted for 62% of suicides in this country, which rose to 70% in 1988, 75% in 1995 and hit 78% in 2013.

- CALM & ONS | 2013

A Cause for Change

Since that day, Danni has been doing everything in his power to spread the word about CALM and the life-changing advice they offer to both men and women of all ages.

Him and his bandmates have even taken part in several sponsored ‘Beardathons’ – challenges to see who can grow the longest and biggest beard over a set time.

Danni plays the bass in a death metal band, which has given him focus

Danni’s first sponsored shave-off of his beard helped him raise more than £500 for CALM. He believes that CALM’s work will continue to make a difference to the lives of thousands of young boys and men struggling with their mental health.

'I know now that should I ever need to talk to somebody, need somewhere to go, CALM will always be there for me,' says Danni.

'They have helped me to an extent I could not possibly explain. I owe these people everything and I hope they can go on to help everybody that may need it.’

Please note that names may have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Images are used for illustrative purposes only and, unless specified, persons included in images are posed models, not the persons mentioned in the article.