This press release was issued by PAPYRUS on 19 April 2023

“We really hope our message is heard”

Three dads who lost their daughters to suicide say they will carry the support of thousands of people when they meet the Prime Minister next week.

Andy Airey, Mike Palmer and Tim Owen say they are delighted to have been invited to meet Rishi Sunak following last month’s parliamentary debate on suicide awareness being taught in schools.

The 3 Dads Walking, who have raised more than a million pounds for the national charity PAPYRUS, prompted the debate by securing more than 100,000 signatures for their online petition.

In a joint statement the dads said:

“Meeting the Prime Minster will enable us to take our campaign to have age-appropriate suicide awareness included as a compulsory part of the school curriculum to the heart of government.

“When we meet in Downing Street we will be carrying the names of the many suicide-bereaved families we met along the way and the names of their loved ones who took their own lives. Their stories and names are now part of our story.

“We will also carry the support of more than 160,000 people who signed our petition and the tens of thousands who donated more than £1million in our name for the wonderful life-saving charity PAPYRUS.”

The 3 Dads Walking came together after losing their daughters Sophie, Beth and Emily to suicide.

In 2021 they set off on their first walk, trekking between Andy’s family home near Penrith to Sale in Greater Manchester where Mike lives and then to Tim’s home in Norfolk.

Last year they set off again, this time walking between the four UK parliaments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales before finishing at Westminster.

They will meet Rishi Sunak on Tuesday 25 April accompanied by Dr Neil Hudson, the MP for Penrith and The Border, who secured cross-party support for his successful parliamentary motion pushing for age-appropriate suicide awareness to be included in the school curriculum.

The 3 Dads Walking added:

“When we meet the Prime Minister we will also carry the support of the hundreds if not thousands of people who have walked with us, many of them sharing their own desperately sad stories; we will carry the support of the many inspirational mental health and suicide prevention charities we have met and which deliver life-saving services; we will carry the support of the MPs who debated and supported our proposal to have suicide prevention included in the school curriculum, and those who supported Dr Neil Hudson MP’s Early Day Motion; and, most importantly, we will be carrying the memories of our daughters, Sophie, Emily and Beth, so that we can make a difference to future generations and save lives.

“We really hope our message is heard.”

The national charity PAPYRUS is keen to see access to suicide prevention in the classroom so that nowhere is off limits for life-saving conversations.

Chief executive, Ged Flynn, said:

“We need our schools to use developmentally-appropriate language to teach life-skills that will keep our children safe, skills they will pass on to their own children.

“Placing suicide prevention on the curriculum gives a clear signal to teachers and parents that we, as a country, honour children, see them, care about them and want them to be themselves, whatever their academic or technical ability.

“Until then desperate children will continue turning to their peers for help and support. It is a national scandal that they are starting conversations in the playground which are not being heard in the classroom.”

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINE247 on 0800 068 4141, text 88247 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

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