Suicide is the biggest killer of men and women under 35 in the UK. Seventeen people will die by suicide today… tomorrow… and the day after that. More than in traffic accidents. More than from cancer. And every single one is potentially preventable.
Why aren’t we talking about this?
WE NEED A CHANGE
WHAT IS #BatonOfHopeUK?
#BatonOfHopeUK is designed to be the biggest suicide awareness and prevention initiative the UK has ever seen, opening up necessary conversations and prompting appropriate actions. Our specially designed baton will tour UK towns and cities for two weeks in Summer 2023, raising the profile of this issue like never before. Together we can reduce the stigma, and get better at asking questions, listening, and directing people to the right help. Together we can save lives.
The Health Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, met the founders of Baton of Hope to express his support for the project. The meeting came just after he had announced a new long-term plan for suicide prevention following significant lobbying of the Government by several key charities.
Isabella de George
Founder of ‘Positive Changes in Placement’
It was one evening just a few weeks before Christmas 2020 that nurse Isabella de George discovered that her brother Harrison had taken his own life at the age of 23. That day, Harrison was meant to be on placement teaching a class at a local college, but he was found unresponsive by a housemate.
The following day Isabella discovered that Manchester Metropolitan University had not been told about Harrison’s absence from placement, and had no idea what had happened. While trying to deal with her grief, Isabella launched the Positive Changes in Placement Campaign, encouraging universities to strengthen their suicide prevention strategies for placement students.
Isabella said: “When I was a nursing student, there would be someone knocking on your door if you hadn’t turned up for a placement. It really surprised me that no one had any idea that Harrison had been absent.” Asked how she managed to campaign while at the same time grieving for Harrison, she said: “Losing my brother has left a huge hole in mine and my family’s lives, and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I started my campaign when I felt that my brother had been let down by his university, and I didn’t want other placement students to feel the same. All I hope is to prevent one more suicide through the work I am doing.”
For Leslie Weirich, the dreadful knock came at 2.30 in the morning. Through the windows framing her family’s front door she could make out a police car. From the moment she opened that door, life would never be the same again. Leslie was told that her 20-year-old son Austin had taken his own life.
It was the response to a national news report in the US where she lives that made Leslie realise that her family’s story needed to be told. She says: “Austin’s story has the power to save other young lives, and spare other parents the devastating loss we experienced. Telling our story to save others is what gets me up and going every single day. It’s my passion, and it has become my life’s work.”
Leslie’s articles: https://leslieshope.org/suicide-prevention-media/#articles
Leslie’s videos: https://leslieshope.org/suicide-prevention-media/#videos
Leslie’s podcasts: https://leslieshope.org/suicide-prevention-media/#podcasts
Despite a pain that has endured since that night in September 2016, Leslie now devotes much of her life tirelessly campaigning for suicide prevention by reaching out to audiences around the world.
Founder of ‘R;pple Suicide Prevention’
In November 2020, Alice’s younger brother, Josh, took his life – he was just 21. Alice had a career as a cyber security specialist and it didn’t take her long to be able to access Josh’s computer. What she found horrified her!
Alice discovered that her brother had been researching suicide techniques via harmful internet searches. He ultimately used one of these search results to take his own life.
The more Alice researched, the more she discovered how easy it is for someone to find ways to end their lives when searching the main internet search engines such as Google and Safari. With only a Samaritans helpline telephone number appearing at the top of a page full of search results, Alice decided something had to change.
In December 2020, having met with senior people from Google, Samaritans and other high-profile organisations, Alice launched R;pple – an online interceptive tool designed to ensure that more help and support is provided to individuals who are conducting searches relating to self-harm or suicide.
Alice’s appearances on mainstream media, and her work with the UK Government and other public bodies, has helped open up the conversation about suicide. Importantly, it has also provided families, schools, workplaces and other groups, with a safeguarding tool which interrupts someone in crisis, providing messages of hope and signposting appropriate support services.
Visit R;pple Suicide Prevention’s website here https://www.ripplesuicideprevention.com/
Founder of ‘Sean’s Place’
On the 20 July 2019, Debbie arrived at her brother’s house to discover that he had taken his own life. Debbie knew Sean was struggling and had tried to alert the relevant mental health services to intervene. In the end, the response came too late.
Sean was just 34, and had endured a long battle with poor mental health.
Within 6 months, Debbie had founded Sean’s Place – a safe location aimed at men over the age of 18 in the Sefton and Liverpool City Region. Debbie’s charity aims to improve mental health and well-being through specifically crafted sessions that promote men’s confidence and self-esteem whilst reducing symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Sean’s Place encourages positive discussions around mental health and suicide through a variety of practical, proactive support and programmes, and increases awareness of the signs to watch for in a non-clinical, non-judgemental setting.
Debbie is a Northern Power Women Awards winner for 2022, and Sean’s Place achieved a Charity of the Year award in 2021. Debbie is proof that through practical action – providing a safe and supportive place for those who are struggling – then lives can be saved.
Visit Sean’s Place website here: https://seansplace.org.uk