Three fathers bereaved by daughters taking their own lives are campaigning to have suicide prevention added to the school curriculum.
Andy Airey, Mike Palmer and Tim Owen – collectively known as Three Dads Walking – have announced they will be trekking for more than 500 miles in memory of Sophie, Beth and Emily.
On 9 September– the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day – the trio will set off on an expedition taking in each of the home nations, before arriving in London.
It follows their venture last autumn, when they covered 300 miles in memory of their daughters by visiting their respective homes in Cumbria, Greater Manchester, and Norfolk.
Once again, the fathers will be urging politicians to do more to reduce young suicides.
“More than 200 schoolchildren are lost to suicide every year,” said Airey. “That is both a tragedy and a national scandal which needs to be addressed.
“Our walk is to provide a focus for continuing the conversation with government about embedding suicide prevention in the school curriculum. Young people want to know more about mental wellbeing and where to get help, and schools have a vital role to play in saving young lives.”
You may also like: ‘Wellbeing must continue to be a priority’ – head of wellbeing at Mind
Three Dads Walking have already raised more than £880,000 for the national charity, PAPYRUS – Prevention of Young Suicide.
“Andy, Mike and Tim were leading different lives in different parts of the country and would probably never have met had they not been brought together by the tragedy and trauma of suicide, which has shattered their lives and the lives of those around them,” said Ged Flynn, chief executive of PAPYRUS. “As the Three Dads Walking, they are able to channel their energy and focus on what they can do to help save young lives.
“They have already helped to start conversations in homes where families were unwilling to discuss suicide. It is remarkable that these proud fathers, who are each trying to deal with their own grief in their own way, have found a positive path forward together.”
To follow the trio’s four-week walk, to find out how to join them when they arrive in a town near you, or to donate to the campaign, click here.
For anyone contemplating suicide, free support is available around the clock, 365 days a year, by calling Samaritans on 116 123. Alternatively, a wide range of assistance can be found on the NHS help for suicidal thoughts webpages