“I believe that we shouldn’t and cannot be afraid of talking about suicide.” Those were the words of former Wigan Warriors and England player Danny Sculthorpe as he backed a new campaign to prevent suicides.
More than 200 people a year take their life in Greater Manchester, making it the biggest killer of men under 49 and women aged 20 to 34.
In Wigan, there were 30 deaths by suicide in 2017, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Now, leaders have said “enough is enough” and that “it’s time to break the stigma of talking about suicide, suicidal thoughts and suicide bereavement”.
It follows research among people who have considered suicide that talking openly helped to save their lives.
The #shiningalightonsuicide campaign has been created to prevent suicides and aims to take the subject out of the dark by encouraging everyone across Greater Manchester to talk openly.
The campaign was launched yesterday at an event with guests including speakers, suicide survivors, those who have been bereaved and organisations which work to prevent suicide.
Danny explained how talking saved his life, after a career-ending spinal injury left him tormented by depression and suicidal thoughts.
“The biggest thing that saved my life, even more so than medication, was talking,” he said.
“Shortly after telling my wife and parents about my suicidal thoughts a massive weight came off my shoulders. We spent hours talking and crying.
“Unfortunately, the injury I sustained left me feeling that I could no longer provide for my wife and children. I went from being an elite sportsman to being pretty much bed-bound and knowing that I wouldn’t play again. Bottling it up pushed me to the edge.
“But I got it all off my chest which was an unbelievable feeling. I also visited my GP, was prescribed antidepressants and spoke to a counsellor on many occasions.”
Father-of-three Danny, 39, added: “I’m now much better and am so thankful that I spoke to my wife and parents on that day when I’d reached my lowest point. If I hadn’t, and instead acted on my suicidal thoughts, I would have ruined so many people’s lives.
“I’m shining a light on suicide because I believe that we shouldn’t and cannot be afraid of talking about suicide. If you are struggling, don’t keep things bottled up like I did, seek help.”
With a short film, website, and a toolkit for partners, the campaign will inform people across Greater Manchester how to help those with suicidal thoughts and support those bereaved by suicide.
Personal stories and short films have been created, featuring people affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts.
To find out more, go to shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk.
If you’re struggling to cope, call Samaritans on 116 123.
Mayor backs launch of campaign, agreeing that ‘enough is enough’
The campaign was commissioned by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and is supported by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and many partners.
He said: “We are losing parents, children, friends, colleagues – the people around us - to suicide and this campaign is right, enough is enough. For every suicide that occurs, there are up to 20 more suicide attempts and one in five of us have had suicidal thoughts at some point.
“The #shiningalightonsuicide campaign will not only highlight the facts about suicide in our city region but show people that there is nothing to be feared in talking about suicide and mental health.”