April 15, 1998 17:25

CALMER POLICE: RADIOHEAD'S SELWAY BACKS SAMARITANS' CAMPAIGN

[a]Radiohead[/a]'S [B]PHIL SELWAY[/B] is backing a new summer anti-depression campaign by The Samaritans...

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Radiohead drummer PHIL SELWAY (pictured, second from left) is backing a new campaign by The Samaritans which will urge young people to contact them if they are depressed.

Selway, who's been a volunteer Samaritan for the last 11 years, is the first musician ever to lend his support to the organisation. The Samaritans say he was asked to back their campaign because the emotional subject matter of Radiohead's songs strike a chord with disaffected young people. They hope Selway's involvement will help them reach their target under-25 age group.

The Samaritans' new campaign is timed to coincide with the summer festival season when they say there's extra pressure on young people to have fun. The Samaritans Festival Branch are attending most of the major music events this summer. They promise confidentiality wherever they set up.

The Samaritans' Lise Colyer tells NME: "We were afraid that young people think the Samaritans are staffed by a bunch of 45-year-olds in twin sets and pearls. Although young men aren't very good at talking about their feelings to each other, when you get them on the quiet they don't mind phoning someone like the Samaritans. It's really just a matter of letting people know they shouldn't let things get that bad."

Suicide currently accounts for 19 per cent of deaths among the UK's 15 to 24 year-olds. "That translates into two young suicides in Britain every day. Most of whom are young men," Phil Selway told NME. "Talking through emotional problems and feelings, whatever they are, is a major step in taking some control over them. But finding the right person to open up to can be very hard, especially for young people."

Selway says the Samaritans has been the one constant thing in his life over the last 11 years. He still regularly answers the phones and is working shifts at the moment. As part of the campaign he will visit schools and tell people about the work of the Samaritans.

Pearl Jam drummer JACK IRONS says it is depression that has forced him to take a sabbatical from the band during their current US tour. Former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron is sitting in with the band for the dates.

Irons says he is suffering from the psychiatric disorder bipolar manic depression, a mental illness thought to be caused by a disturbance in brain chemistry. He says the illness forced him to previously quit Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eleven. Irons said he's been taking medication to combat the disorder for ten years.

The Samaritans can be contacted anonymously in the UK on: 0345 90 90 90 for the price of a local (UK) call or by e-mail at: samaritans@anon.twwells.com

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