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9th September 2015
When consultant anaesthetist Dr Sangeeta Mahajan’s only son took his own life almost a year ago it was a huge shock. Her son, Saagar, was just 20.
At that time she was unaware that suicide is the main cause of death in young men under 35. Now she is determined to raise awareness that young suicide is a major issue: over 1,600 young people under 35 in the UK take their own lives every year. Three quarters of them are young men.
Dr Mahajan, who lives in West Norwood, is supporting national charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, through a number of awareness and fundraising initiatives that include the Thames Path Challenge and a Hyde Park vigil on World Suicide Prevention day, Thursday 10 September.
“I want to shatter the stigma that surrounds suicide, especially by young people,” said Sangeeta. “Stigma prevents people using the word ‘suicide’, many thinking that it may put the idea in a young person’s mind. I now know that the opposite is true. That it is indeed a relief; offering the opportunity for a young person to finally talk about how they are really feeling.
“Saagar was a handsome young man with great potential. He was an accomplished linguist, cricketer, percussionist and actor. Most of all he had time for everyone. He was kind and sensitive. Last summer he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I am a doctor, but I had no idea that this would lead to him taking his own life.”
In memory of Saagar and the long walks they used to take together, Dr Mahajan and a group of friends are undertaking the Thames Path Challenge, a 25 kilometre walk from Cookham to Henley on 13 September. You can support Sangeeta and her friends at www.justgiving.com/Sangeeta-Mahajan3/
On World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday 10 September at 6pm at Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park, Sangeeta and friends are holding a vigil to celebrate the lives of all young people who turned to suicide because they felt they were not coping with life. They welcome anyone who has been affected this way to join them.
Every year in the UK between 600 and 800 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 take their own lives - a number equivalent to the population of a small secondary school. Under the age of 35, the number rises to over 1,600. That equates to around three to four per day. Three quarters of them are young men.
PAPYRUS is a national UK charity founded in 1997 by a group of parents who had a lost a child through suicide: parents determined to do everything possible to save other families and young people from a similar fate. PAPYRUS works towards building a society which speaks openly about suicide and has the resources to help young people who may have suicidal thoughts.
The charity’s HOPELineUK helpline servicesprovide a unique service in the UK for young people themselves and those concerned about them - to speak confidentially to its team of trained professionals for practical advice and support. Telephone 0800 068 41 41 text 07786 209 697 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial contact for more information and interviews: Rosemary Vaux PAPYRUS press office tel 020 8943 5343 mobile 07792 72 62 41