Manchester dad who lost 17-year-old daughter to suicide raises over £800,000 for charity
The money is being given to Papyrus, a charity for the prevention of young suicide
A dad from Manchester, who tragically lost his 17-year-old daughter to suicide, has urged the Prime Minister to prioritise mental health education in schools.
After losing his daughter Beth in March 2020, Mike Palmer began talking with two other dads who sadly found themselves in the same position. Despite the miles separating the men, the three dads quickly found themselves connecting over their shared grief.
All three dads lost their daughters to suicide over the last three years.
With seven per cent of children said to have attempted suicide by age 17, the men were very much aware that sadly they were not alone in this. Knowing that families in all corners of the UK were experiencing this immeasurable pain they wanted to make a change.
And that is where 3 Dads Walking began. Mike Palmer, Andy Airy and Tim Owen set out to raise awareness and make a small change.
Speaking to The Tab Manchester Mike said: “The word suicide and Beth never belonged in the same sentence. I did not have a clue about the extent of the problem, but PAPYRUS opened my eyes.”
In October 2021, Mike, Andy, and Tim, set off on a 300-mile walk between their three houses to raise money for Papyrus, a charity for the prevention of young suicide.
Originally hoping to raise £9,000 the three men well surpassed their target, raising over £800,000 to date. And with celebrities such as Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman joining those supporting the men, they soon became a media hit.
Thousands of people across the UK and further abroad came together to support the men. From donations, to driving kit for them and providing accommodation.
Mike said: “We didn’t realise how many people our walk would affect. But our openness encouraged other to talk.”
Whilst walking they met many parents and families who shared stories of loss, and the devastation that followed. And whilst every story was different, the men say they noticed a running theme throughout. A lack of support and education for young people around mental health.
Determined to change this, on return from their walk the dads sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asking him why suicide, which is the biggest killer of under 35s, is not addressed during school years.
The letter outlines the experiences of the men as they walked and asks Boris for assurance that he would add positive mental health and suicide prevention to the PSHE curriculum.
Mike said: “It’s raising awareness, it is pushing the stigma aside, its being able to talk about suicide and mental health issues. I believe talking it a major tool to prevent suicide. Being open and honest and supportive”.
The dads hope to continue their campaign to change in the new year, when they will meet with Gillian Keegan, Minister of State for Care and Mental Health to discuss their hope for increased education and suicide prevention to be added to the PSHE curriculum.
If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably) on 0800 58 58 58.