Soft Launch of the Baton of Hope

London, Saturday 25 June 2022

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.

The Secretary of State’s office had earlier said: “Across the sector, progress has been made in the last decade. However, society has also changed in significant ways – bringing new challenges, drivers and risks that we need to tackle. We believe now is the time for us to develop a new and ambitious long-term plan for suicide prevention.”

Two of the Baton of Hope founders, Steve Phillip and Mike McCarthy, who have become persuasive advocates for change, were invited to hear Mr. Javid’s speech, and discuss their own plans and ideas for better suicide prevention.  Both men have suffered the loss of a son to suicide, and shared their experiences with the Health Secretary. The moment was captured by BBC Breakfast who reported on the Dads’ preparation for what they hope and believe will be the biggest suicide prevention awareness initiative ever staged in the country.

The BBC is following the progress of the Baton of Hope initiative which will culminate on 25th June next year with a two-week tour of the UK highlighting suicide prevention work around the nation. The Baton is being specially created by designers and technologists to represent the lives of those lost to suicide: “a unique fusion of art, engineering, technology and hope”.  It is hoped that Parliament will provide a special ‘resting place’ for the Baton as a reminder to MPs and legislators of their responsibility for the welfare of people facing mental health crises.

The fathers issued a joint statement, saying: “It’s one year to go exactly until Baton of Hope tours the UK. As a non-political organisation, we appeal to politicians of all parties to support this important bid to unite the nation in helping to reduce the number of suicides each year. This has remained stubbornly high, and is the biggest killer of the UK’s young adults.”

“We want to encourage everyone across the country to talk openly about suicide with care and compassion, to ask direct questions about suicidal thoughts and listen without judgement, and to pass on the Baton’s central message of Hope to their families, and in their workplaces and their communities.”

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