Blackburn with Darwen Council is to host a public vigil outside Blackburn Town Hall to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday, September 10.
Working with the Blackburn with Darwen Suicide Prevention Strategy Group and key local partner organisations, the vigil will kick start a year-long programme of events, activities, training opportunities and suicide awareness raising in the borough.
Guests and the public are invited to start gathering outside Blackburn Town Hall from 11.15am. The event will start at 11.35am and will close around 12pm.
The main part of the vigil will see a 40 seconds’ silence held at 11.40am to signify the fact that in their ‘eleventh hour’ one person dies of suicide around the world every 40 seconds.
As well as the 40 seconds’ silence, there will be speeches from invited dignitaries including Tony Harrison – a tireless local advocate for suicide prevention who lost his only child, Vicky, to suicide in 2010.
Tony is now a trustee for the national charity PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide) which was founded in East Lancashire 21 years ago.
The event will also be used as a chance to signpost people to support services and explain how people can take action to support people at risk of suicide.
In the UK suicide is the leading cause of death of young people under 35 and the leading cause of death of men under 45.
Suicide prevention has been chosen as one of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s key corporate campaigns to support this year given the growing awareness of this vitally important issue both locally and nationally.
Councillor Brian Taylor, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care and local Mental Health Champion, said:
“I’m delighted that we are continuing our work with the Blackburn with Darwen Suicide Prevention Strategy Group and other partners on this vitally important subject and I will be a keen advocate of everything planned over the next year. The effects of suicide spread far and wide with family, friends and whole communities impacted. Every story is heart-breaking and we must do what we can to break the silence. Collectively – through events like this – we can build momentum and spread the message that there is hope and it is possible to heal.”
Tony Harrison said:
“Suicide is devastating and turns your whole life on its head. It can split families and communities. Suicide even now is still the darkest of taboos and has so much stigma associated with it. We need to dispel the myths, shatter the stigma and make suicide a subject that we can all feel comfortable talking about. Doing this will help to break the silence which in turn will help us to reduce the numbers of suicides. This initiative in Blackburn with Darwen is very much welcomed and can only be a good and positive move in helping raise much needed awareness and hope for many people and whilst there is breath, there is hope.”