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It’s time we talked about the difficult stuff! You start…

Matt Wigginton, director at charity Ben, writes about how we can’t always spot the signs but we can all do a little bit more to talk to those around us to help prevent suicide in our industry

Time 8:20 am, October 6, 2023

It’s time for some unapologetically straight-talking. Buckle up everyone.

With all the things that everyday life throws at us, as well as work pressures, it’s no surprise people in our industry are struggling or in crisis. It’s a sad fact that some are dying because they feel they have nowhere to turn when the brown stuff hits the fan.

So, what are we going to do about it?

It’s just over a week since we heard that one of our own, Dan Kirby, had tragically died. There have been others, of course, whom we’ve read about in the press, others who have turned to Ben for support for themselves, or for family and colleagues facing a future they’d likely never considered. There will be even more that we’ll simply never know about.

Suicide can be a difficult subject to talk about, but it shouldn’t be. I spent 18 months volunteering for Samaritans, listening to people talk about what’s got them to such a difficult place and trying. I tried, but often failed to understand as it’s such a personal journey.

But before you stop reading because it’s uncomfortable, or because you don’t believe you’d ever get to that point, let’s take a step back because suicide is the result of a whole load of other ‘stuff’ that’s been going on, often for a long time. It’s rarely the first thing anyone thinks about when times get tough.

Whilst it’s a massive over-simplification to say that people, particularly men, need to talk more it’s certainly a good place to start and I guess that’s my point: no-one in our industry should ever feel they have nowhere to turn, no matter what.

Let’s face it, most men are terrible at talking about their feelings. Fact. Just ask their loved ones, their families, and their colleagues.

If you do get us talking about all the good things that are (maybe!) happening in our lives, then you’ll struggle to shut us up, but when it comes to talking about what’s wrong and how that’s affecting us then the upper lip stiffens. Then thoughts of everything our fathers ever told us as kids about being a man, being strong and never showing any signs of weakness come rushing to the surface again! We’re right back to being a 7-year-old kid with a bloody nose after being on the wrong end of a punch from Richard Jones in Year 5.

But it’s not just men. Whilst women are often better at talking about their feelings and asking for support, it’s human nature to protect ourselves and avoid vulnerability, and everyone’s different.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK but it’s the most extreme potential outcome when things go off the rails.

There are a million ‘little things’ that happen to all of us every day of the week, most of which we just brush off and move on from, but there are some that we struggle with. They get under our skin and make life difficult for us.

That’s where we need to start. We need to start with the ‘little things’ that we’re struggling with because if we all did that, we’d potentially stop them from becoming ‘big things’ that can get out of control.

And if we stopped the ‘big things’ from getting out of control then we might save people’s jobs, their relationships, their families and, ultimately, their lives.

The thought of confronting and overcoming challenges can be scary, and it’s often hard, but with the right support it’s rarely impossible.

So, if you’re struggling with something, or facing a crisis, please remember that Ben is here to support you and your family. You can call us on 08081 311 333 or visit for free and confidential information, advice, and support.

We’ll hear from around 15,000 people this year – that’s one enquiry every 10 minutes. You can tell us anything, we’ll never judge you and we’ll never tell your employer, or anyone else. We’ll just work with you to help you get back on track.

In an industry full of targets, let’s set our own – to get more people talking about the difficult stuff too. You start…

P.S. We’re approaching World Mental Health Day on October 10 and Ben is asking businesses around the country to join our annual ‘Ben’s Big Breakfast’ event, encouraging colleagues to take a break, share breakfast with each other and raise vital funds to support Ben’s work in the industry.

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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