'If today saves one young person, it's been well worth coming.' These were the words of one of the participants at an event raising awareness about youth suicide at LACE Conference Centre this month.
The event on 6 March shed light on the work of the national charity Papyrus which works for the prevention of young suicide. Hosted and promoted by Familias, the National Association for Catholic Diocesan Marriage & Family Life Ministry, it sought to explore attitudes and beliefs about suicide, considering what is being done to prevent young suicide and what part we can play in saving young lives.
Familias organised a series of talks around the country in March – with Liverpool one stop on an itinerary that also featured Westminster, Clifton and Cardiff – and Ged Flynn, the chief executive of Papyrus, was hopeful that the day at LACE would serve as a significant step towards promoting dialogue about a serious problem for our society. In 2013 there were over 1,500 suicides by people aged between 15 and 35, three-quarters of them male.
Flynn said: 'It was really good to have in one room school chaplains, educators, retired professionals, carers, parents, clergy, pastoral ministers, prison chaplains, university staff and chaplaincy leads, to name but a few – all talking about suicide and how to prevent it among young people.
'Seventy-five per cent of people who take their lives are not known to those providing mental health services. We all want to help and often don’t know what to say or do when faced with suicidal behaviours.
'I hope that the result of our day in Liverpool is an increased awareness of the scale of young suicide and a determination to share with others that suicide is not inevitable – that we can all help to do something to prevent it.
'My own hope is that the 100 people who attended will return to their parishes, communities and organisations and start talking about suicide. This, in itself, breaks stigma and promotes open dialogue about one of the last taboos, suicide.'
Papyrus was founded in 1997 by Jean Kerr, a woman from Lancashire who had lost her son to suicide. Other parents bereaved by suicide began to join her in the belief that something positive could come from their own tragedy.
Flynn added: 'Papyrus is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. It is driven and governed by a group of trustees, the majority of whom have been personally touched by a young suicide – usually a child or a young family member. Today our charity has members and supporters in all parts of the UK. Membership is open to all who share our aims. What unites them is a belief that many young suicides may be prevented.'
For more information, visit www.papyrus-uk.org or call 01925 572444. To contact the Papyrus Hopeline, call 0800 0684141 or text 07786 209 697 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.