Column: Look out for those around you who may be struggling

During October, my family was honoured to host overnight the ‘3 Dads Walking’ as they made the 300-mile trek between their homes in Cumbria, Greater Manchester and Norfolk, says Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 5:00 pm

Mike, Tim and Andy are three ordinary men previously unknown to each other but brought together as they separately suffered devastating grief for their young daughters Sophie, Beth and Emily, who lost their lives to suicide.

United in their determination to do something about it, they decided to walk 300 miles to raise awareness and money for the work of Papyrus, a suicide prevention charity that targets young people. Suicide is the biggest killer of the under 35’s in the UK.

They succeeded in attracting widespread media and public attention across the country.

The Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.

Any one of us, at any time, might face what feels like overwhelming pressure, particularly perhaps during an unprecedented global pandemic when many have lost control of the rhythm of their lives.

Each of the dads in ‘3 Dads Walking’ describes their daughter as a loving, intelligent, vital young woman with many friends and apparently everything to live for.

And yet, they took their own lives. That their daughters felt unable to reach out and share their hidden despair even with their closest family and friends is clearly a source of great anguish.

During lockdown, it is estimated that over 220 people in Derbyshire died by suicide. It is such a source of sadness to us all that as a community and a society we weren’t able to offer them the support they needed.

'That their daughters felt unable to reach out and share their hidden despair even with their closest family and friends is clearly a source of great anguish', says Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.

In the Gospels, we see Jesus was very attentive to mental health. He retreated alone to quiet places to rest, reflect and pray.

He spent quality time, shared food and marked key moments of life with his closest friends. He constantly encouraged his followers not to be afraid, wished them peace, offered them life in all its fullness, spoke truth that would set them free and taught them to love themselves as well as each other and God.

These are examples we can all learn from

We live in very challenging times and the reasons why someone may choose to end their own life are extremely complex but if we work together, we can offer better support to one another and reduce the risks of suicide. Everyone can learn to recognise warning signs, offer support, signpost help and encourage family and friends to attend to their mental wellbeing.

The ‘3 Walking Dads’ campaign has raised more than £800,000 and a lot of awareness around suicide prevention.

They offered comfort to those who, like them, are grieving through suicide, and hope to countless others.

Organisations like Papyrus, Derbyshire Mind, The Samaritans and many others locally and nationally, are great sources of help and support.

This autumn, as the days draw in, I encourage you to make time for the things that fulfil and satisfy you, give you hope and build your resilience. And to look out for those around you who may be struggling.