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Baton of Hope completes visit to Island kickstarting suicide prevention campaign

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”

The Baton of Hope has completed its visit to the Isle of Man - marking the start of an initiative hoped to be the biggest suicide awareness and prevention campaign in the British Isles.

The campaign is spearheaded by Mike McCarthy - a former BBC and Sky News journalist - who lost his son Ross to suicide in 2021.

Bereaved Survivors of Suicide Isle of Man is a support network which helps those affected by suicide.

Its founder David Higson says the link-up has come at the 'perfect time' given Tynwald has just approved the Suicide Prevention Strategy:

A presentation was held this morning (8 June) to discuss the purpose of the baton's visit to the Isle of Man and identify some of the impacts that suicide has on society.

Various political figures attended with almost the entirety of the Council of Ministers listening to the tragic stories and devastation caused. 

Worldwide, it's estimated a person dies by suicide every 40 seconds, which equates to 800,000 people each year.

"The scars are deep and last a lifetime"

The presentation provoked an emotional response from the audience, which was also compiled of representatives from mental health charities, psychological initiatives and the police as well as members of the public who have themselves been affected by suicide.

In 1961 suicide was decriminalised.  There was emphasis on stopping using the word 'committed' when describing a death by suicide.

The Baton of Hope was brought to the Island to coincide with the Isle of Man TT.

It was taken to the start line of the races yesterday (7 June) and displayed around The Grandstand where it received a welcome response from riders and the public alike.

Further into the evening, two stage slots were booked at Bushy's Festival in the Villa Marina gardens, as Mr Higson explained:

Mr McCarthy spoke at length about the statistics of suicide as he prepares to take the baton on a journey of 12 cities in 12 days.

It's travelling to Glasgow first and will then make its way to Westminster.

Manx Radio's Christian Jones sat down with him to find out more:

Campaigners are clear that suicide prevention is a societal effort and shouldn't be left to government, health bodies and the third sector to manage.

The presentation closed with a quote from Schindler's List: “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

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