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Three dads and a 300-mile challenge to prevent young suicide

THREE ordinary dads who lost young daughters to suicide are preparing to set off on an extraordinary journey to help spare other families the agony of losing a child.

The 300-mile walk in memory of their daughters Sophie, Beth and Emily will raise awareness of suicide prevention and promote the professional help and support which is available to young people who are struggling with life.

Andy Airey from Cumbria, Mike Palmer from Greater Manchester and Tim Owen from Norfolk have three different stories to tell, each has the same tragic ending.

Their trek, 3 Dads Walking, is in support of the national charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide and will begin at Andy’s home in Cumbria on Saturday 9 October.

Three dads and a 300-mile challenge to prevent young suicide
Sophie Airey

Andy whose 29-year-old daughter Sophie took her own life in 2018 said:

“Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35 in the UK. We only learned this terrifying fact because each of us has lost a daughter to suicide within the last three years.

“By raising awareness, we hope to prevent other families from suffering such indescribable pain and bring something positive out of the utter devastation of losing a child to suicide.”

From Cumbria, the three dads will head south, walking through South Lakeland and Lancashire to Mike Palmer’s home in Greater Manchester.

Three dads and a 300-mile challenge to prevent young suicide
Beth Palmer

Mike lost his 17-year-old daughter Beth to suicide in March 2020, said:

“3 Dads Walking is not a club I want to belong to, but along with Andy and Tim, it gives us, as fathers, an opportunity to fight back and maybe make a difference.

“We are all too aware that there are more young people out there falling into despair and see no way out other than to end their own precious lives.

“We hope that by linking our three homes and telling our three daughters’ very different stories we will put a spotlight on young mental health and ultimately the brutal effects of suicide.”

After leaving Greater Manchester the 3 Dads Walking will head south-east through Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire before arriving at Tim’s family home in King’s Lynn.

Three dads and a 300-mile challenge to prevent young suicide
Emily Owen

Tim whose 19-year-old daughter Emily was lost to suicide in March 2020, said:

“I strongly believe that in a moment of darkness my daughter made a wrong decision. Two minutes earlier or later it would have been different.

“Had she just taken time to think or to speak to someone, her decision and my family’s lives would be on another path. Instead, she decided she could no longer go on, leaving behind a devastating ripple effect on her family and friends.

“She just had no idea how many lives she touched and continues to impact.”

Averaging 20 miles a day 3 Dads Walking aim to complete their challenge in 15 days, finishing their journey on Saturday 23 October.

Every step of the way they will be remembering their daughters and supporting the work of PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide; promoting the charity’s belief that many young suicides can be prevented.

Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of PAPYRUS, says the walk will be a life-saver.

“Andy, Mike and Tim were leading different lives in different parts of the country and would probably never have met had they not been brought together by the tragedy and trauma of suicide which has shattered their lives and the lives of those around them.

“As 3 Dads Walking they will be able to channel their energy and focus on what they can do to help save young lives.

“It is remarkable that these proud fathers, who are each trying to deal with their own grief in their own way, have found a positive path forward together.”

Their website: https://www.3dadswalking.uk/ contains moving tributes to their daughters, details of the route, a list of generous supporters and how to donate via their JustGiving page.

The website will also allow users to track the walk live.

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org.

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