Broken Hearted Optimism - 3 dads walking for suicide prevention

Broken Hearted Optimism - 3 dads walking for suicide prevention

By Col Stocker

After their daughters died by suicide, three dads have turned the heartbreaking grief into a positive to help others and raise awareness for suicide prevention. By using long distance walks across the UK they are opening important conversations and building something that can help save lives.

Three guys found their lives thrown together when sucked into a vortex whipped up by the aftermath of suicide.
It so easy to imagine that when faced with such grief, world’s would simply buckle completely. Yet by opening out rather than closing down they helped each other through these incredibly difficult times and emerged with an optimistic determination to make a difference.

Rewinding back to December 2018, Andy’s world was shattered when his daughter Sophie took her own life at the age of 29. Then just over a year later in March 2020, Mike and Tim’s lives were changed forever, thrown into “the club that nobody ever wants to be part of" when both tragically lost their daughters. Beth aged 17 and Emily 19.

It’s a pain that’s hard to comprehend. What’s incredible is how they have managed to channel all the heartache and gone about turning that grief into a positive, while actively bringing others into the conversation.

“It's a hell of a hole to try and get yourself out of. I was shattered. I'd gone from probably a stereotypical strong firefighter into basically a suicidal mess. But yes, it’s about trying to find some sort of positives... it seems like fate why we're together, you know, but we absolutely believe in what we do and the positivity that we feel as though we can change things and prevent other families going through this. You know, the hellish aftermath of losing a loved one to suicide. That's the positivity. We drive on because that, that is hope.”

What better than walking. Yes, 3 Dads Walking.

Hear their story...

"Walking and talking is what we do. Smashing the stigma around mental health and suicide is our goal. With every step we remember our girls and this gives us the courage to make a difference. Because of the nature of what we've done by walking across the country and talking to so many people, we’ve had these conversations everywhere and can see this happening in every community, everywhere. So we've got to do something about it.

We've got to talk about it. We've got to keep going.

So yes it's based on our loss of Sophie, Beth and Emily, but it's then built on this massive foundation of all these other young people that have been lost in the past. We can build something here that will save people in the future.”

Through their big walks across the UK they honour their daughters memories, whilst bringing awareness of how suicide remains the biggest killer of under-35s in the UK, campaigning around suicide prevention and raising money for the amazing work at Papyrus.

the cash raised was the by-product of the real output – saving lives and increasing the conversation around suicide

“We have found that by talking about our stories and getting people engaged in what we've been through we can then introduce them to suicide prevention charities like Papyrus and get people talking about suicide and suicide prevention, because that's how we're going to save lives. To give a little hope to other bereaved parents, people bereaved by suicide, because it's so hard to go on and it comes at you from all different angles."

"By doing these walks it gives us a vehicle to keep the conversation going and we need to keep the conversation going. We know that by putting suicide prevention into the school curriculum, putting preventative strategies in place, it will save lives. And we're not talking about suicide prevention just to the young people, we’re talking about a whole school approach. We're talking to all the staff, including teachers, parents and the children”

One of the most powerful sentiments we get to see come through the Alpkit Foundation is how time outdoors can literally save lives and spending time with them radiated this. So it was a real pleasure to help the three of them on this recent walk of theirs.

Not only are they making an impact through raising awareness for suicide prevention, but they are also opening up important conversations along the way and how demonstrating how talking can have such impact. Their walks have proved so powerful that they pull people along with them, those wanting to join them and talk, to support each other and those going through their shared journeys. What's wonderful is that you'll often find them joining each others personal challenges as they raise awareness in their own ways.

It really is both moving and inspiring to hear the stories and how shared experiences of such grief can be turned into something so positive.

John from Walking 4 Hope lost his 15 yr old son, Jake on the 17th July 2020.

“It's the most basic thing, isn't it? I mean, we started walking because we wanted to illustrate that suicide is the biggest killer in the UK. We did this by walking between where we live, in Norfolk, Cumbria and Manchester. This time we’ve walked between the Papyrus offices, some newly opened. It really illustrates how this issue is UK wide."

"The conversations you can have with when you're walking is very different than when you're sitting down having a cup of coffee or sitting face to face with somebody. You’re wandering along, not looking at the person next to you. You're looking at the countryside rolling around you and it does free your mind up to be able to access all kinds of different thoughts, it just allows people to be very open with their conversations.

So we've actually created this kind of safe space around us that people have come into and they've shared their stories. Yeah. it's been a real privilege to listen to so much.”

Go nice places, do good things.

For help around these issues or to find out more, check out the amazing Papyrus – Young Suicide Prevention

Remember help is out there. Hopeline247 - text 'Hope' to 88247

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