First Dates is a show ostensibly about two strangers meeting and going on a date – a pretty simple concept, when it comes down to it.
But it’s turned out to be much more than that, with people regularly sharing their most intimate and personal experiences with their matches (and, by extension, the entire nation).
Which is exactly what happened this week on First Dates Ireland, when dater Catriona opened up about her brother’s suicide.
And it all started when her date complimented her hair – which, it turned out, she had shaved off for charity, and as a “visual message” about male mental health.
“I thought: let’s do something positive for his one year anniversary. A huge thing about depression and anxiety is that people don’t want to talk about it. There’s a huge stigma. And the biggest thing is that men don’t talk.
“Being a guy and talking about your emotions doesn’t make you less of a man. If I’m bald, does that make me less of a woman? It’s like a guy who talks about his feelings”.
The date comes the same week that a powerful anti-suicide campaign has been launched by male mental health charity, CALM.
The campaign features 84 individual sculptures, each representing a real life lost to suicide, which are currently on display on top of ITV’s buildings on London’s Southbank.
“We’re aiming to initiate a much-needed conversation around male suicide and a movement towards better suicide prevention and bereavement support, so that we can convince the government to take action and responsibility, where we’ve also got a petition headed up by us and Matthew Smith, who tragically lost his brother Dan to suicide 13 years ago,” CALM CEO Simon Gunning told ShortList.
“By working with the families and friends of men who have taken their own lives to highlight individual stories, we hope we’ve been able to make the impersonal thoroughly personal for the message to really hit home nationally.”