Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

A man who set himself on fire has founded a support group for suicide survivors

Photo: MEN Syndication

A man who doused his legs with petrol and set himself alight in bid to kill himself has spoken out after founding a support group for survivors of suicide attempts. Chris Platt’s head, hands and legs bear the scars of a day he will never forget.

In September 2013, tortured by demons, struggling with alcohol and feeling he had nowhere to turn, Chris from Stockport set fire to himself. He suffered 23 per cent third-degree burns and was in a coma in Wythenshawe Hospital’s intensive care unit for seven weeks.

"I chose a place in the country where I thought I wouldn’t be disturbed

“I can remember most of it with clarity. I remember stopping the car and getting into the back, filling the car and my lower legs with petrol and lighting it.

“It went whoosh. I thought at the back of my mind I might bottle it - and I felt an immense sense of relief that all the pain and hurt for myself and other people was going to go.

“I had to relight it three or four times. The next thing I remember is being out of the car with a first responder paramedic - but I can’t remember how that happened, and it never came back to me.

“No one has ever taken credit for it, I don’t even know if it was me who phoned the ambulance myself.”

– Chris Platt
Chris Platt Credit: MEN syndication

Chris suffered 23 per cent third-degree burns and was in a coma in Wythenshawe Hospital’s intensive care unit for seven weeks. Now, after being so fortunate to survive, he has set out to save other men from the suicidal thoughts that led to his drastic act. Chris, a married dad-of-two, said: “I am just lucky I wasn’t successful.

“I was in hospital for four months and when I came out I had social workers and psychiatrists crawling all over me for two weeks but then, when I was no longer a risk, there was a bit of a void.”

Left with no psychiatric support, Chris looked for help on the internet - and discovered that while there are plenty of groups for those left bereaved by suicide, there were none for those who survived an attempt.

It’s led him to set up A Man About a Dog - a group for men who have attempted to take their own life but survived - with £10,000 funding from the Equity Foundation, and support from Stockport Progress and Recovery Centre (SPARC).

According to the charity the Campaign against Living Miserably (CALM) 84 men kill themselves in the UK every week - and for each one of these another 25-30 will try.

Credit: MEN syndication

Chris, who has been sober for four-and-a-half years, said: “The project is about how we can we reach some of these individuals and give them a voice. “I got a lot of support for my addiction but not for trying to kill myself - so in a way I was lucky I was an addict.

“Any of us can get to that point, it is about finding a better way to respond to it, most blokes just want to know they are not on their own.”

It is early days for his ‘A Man About a Dog’ project but the hope is in time it will offer its own psychiatric services to people. One reason why the new project is called ‘A Man About a Dog’ is because Chris’s pet French bulldog Albert is the face of the project - but there is more to it than that.

“I think I would have been quite resistant if someone had suggested therapy to me. So I wanted to call it something not associated with that sort of thing.