School curriculum change proposed to teach students about suicide prevention

A petition to change school curriculums to prioritise suicide prevention has been debated in parliament and received a positive response from MPs. 

The campaign is backed by 3 Dad’s Walking, which is made up of three fathers: Andy Airey, Mike Palmer and Tim Owen and they have spent the last three years raising money and awareness for suicide after their daughters Sophie, Beth and Emily took their own lives. 

In 2021 they walked between their houses in Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Norfolk, passing through the Peak District.

Andy Airey said: “To try and indicate that suicide doesn’t discriminate and it can happen to any family anywhere.”

The most recent data from Public Health England shows there were 111 cases of suicide among men or boys aged ten and over in Sheffield between 2017 and 2019.

Additionally, 17% of all death in men aged 15-44 in Sheffield city (2015-2017) was suicide, sourced from the Primary Care Mortality Database.

Mr Airey illustrated the magnitude of the issue and the loss of 200 school-aged children to suicide each year by saying: “Imagine if somebody dropped a bomb on a school full of kids once a year, there would be uproar.”

In Mr Airey’s experience of speaking to bereaved parents “it was only off the back of their loss that they discovered suicide was the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK.”

“If this is the biggest risk in our young people’s lives, why aren’t we talking about it?”

He described the “powerful” debate in parliament in which MPs discussed changes to the school curriculum and said: “without exception, every MP, whichever party they belong to, said, we’ve looked at what these people are asking and they’re right.

“So it was a really positive day.”

The three dads have had the review of curriculum called forward from September to the near future with suicide prevention looked at as a priority. 

Mr Airey said: “What we want to do is rattle the cage of society and get that conversation happening everywhere.”

Despite the 3 Dads Walking not having a walk planned in 2023, there is discussion of a celebratory walk in 2024 and they plan to join the Baton of Hope in Summer 2023.

The Baton of Hope will pass through Sheffield on the 28th June 2023.

It is intended to be the biggest suicide awareness and prevention initiative in the UK, working to reduce the stigma, get better at asking and listening to questions and knowing how to help ourselves and others.

To reach out for help, contact:

PAPYRUS – https://www.papyrus-uk.org/

Hopeline UK – 0800 068 4141

Samaritans – 116 123

Written by Georgia Cook

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