Thank you to all those who have supported PAPYRUS to prevent young suicide in 2022.

It’s not unusual for people to thank our trustees, our staff, and our volunteers for what they do. Many say, “You do amazing work!”, and they are right; but we can’t do any of it without the often relentless commitment of those who enable that work through fundraising; sharing of our messages; attending our training; sharing of their personal stories; challenging us to be better; providing a listening ear; encouraging us and sustaining us – personally and professionally.

I’d like to include a particular group this time round, if I may. The family and friends of our staff often play a key role in the work of the charity. Partners, siblings, mates, neighbours, children, in-laws, grandparents and more – all playing a key role in suicide prevention. Often unsung heroes, they take us to the station or pick us up from long journeys. They listen to us make sense of difficult moments. They attend events and collect donations, hold coats, make tea, have conversations, spur us on.

They share our passion for young people. Like many of our supporters, they do this without reward or recognition. And we are very humbled by that support and sincerely grateful for it. It makes it so much easier when loved ones have our back when the task is tough.

As the winter bites this year, I am conscious of those for whom it is especially tough:

  1. people who have been bereaved by suicide
  2. young people who are struggling to stay alive each day
  3. those who are fighting for a young person they care about who may need better services to support them
  4. those whose young person’s story is a very difficult one just now

For all of us, for every community, the challenge at this time is even greater in terms of financial hardship: we must all look out in new ways for each other. Often poverty wears disguises like pride, a smile, rebuttal, dismissal, or shame. We are each community resources for each other. Poverty and financial hardship contribute significantly to suicide. Being in poverty can be an invitation to be explored:

How are you coping right now?

How are things going for you this winter?

Such questions can warm the heart but can also help scaffold that difficult question, ‘Are you thinking of suicide?’

Many who have been bereaved often say they wish they had asked that question, too. We can and should.

Every winter, I regret not preparing my car better for snow. It reminds me that we shouldn’t wait for the dark days before we get our own heads ready for the difficult times. Every one of us should have a suicide-safety plan, way before the darkness comes. I often ask people to invite others to be their go-to in the future, should they need support.

This winter, I am grateful to all who enable us to share this life-saving thinking, every day on our helpline as well as in countless communities on an increasing footprint across the UK.

As the new year begins, we must keep going, reach further and enable more young people to face 2023 with renewed hope.

⁠— Ged Flynn, PAPYRUS Chief Executive

If you’re a young person experiencing thoughts of suicide, or you’re concerned for somebody who is, contact HOPELINEUK for free, confidential advice and support on 0800 068 4141. Text us on 07860 039 967 or email us on pat@papyrus-uk.org. We are here for you from 9am to midnight, every single day of the year.

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