Bereaved dad says being aware of mental health could have saved 17-year-old daughter

ITV Granada Reports' correspondent Mel Barham has spoken to mental health campaigner Mike Palmer.


A father whose daughter took her own life during lockdown has said if he had been more aware of mental health he could have spotted the signs before her death.

Mike Palmer, from Sale, lost his 17-year-old daughter Beth in March 2020 and has since raised thousands for suicide prevention charity Papyrus

He was part of a trio of fathers, called Three Dads Walking, who walked across the UK in memory of their daughters who took their own lives and to raise awareness of mental health.

(From left) Beth, Sophie and Emily all took their own lives. Credit: Family photos

Mike hopes people will use Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from 9-15 May, as a 'way in' to talk to loved ones about how they are feeling.

He says being aware of the signs of depression and mental distress could save lives.

"We didn't know that Beth was struggling with her mental health. However, hindsight gives us all the clues", Mike explains.

"The way that she was maybe acting, some of her language. If we had been more aware and maybe taken more notice of things like mental health awareness week, we might've seen the signs with Beth."

Three Dads Walking have raised almost £900,000 for suicide prevention. Credit: Papyrus

Mike joined forces with two other bereaved dads - Andy Airey and Tim Owen - to not only raise money charity but also start a conversation about suicide awareness.

He said: "We are just dads that's all we are, but I think that's why people saw us for that we were ordinary dads - we'd lost our daughters.

"It built momentum because people weren't talking about it and they felt that we were - we were talking openly about mental health and suicide and our losses.

"It gave them the opportunity, the permission, to come and talk."

According to Papyrus, 200 school children take their lives every year in the UK.

Mike and Three Dads Walking are calling for more education around suicide prevention, urging the government to put it on the national curriculum.

The trio of fathers joined together to raise awareness of mental health after losing their daughters to suicide.

"The biggest danger to young people is themselves. Yet no one is talking about it", Mike explains.

"There should be more education It needs to be talked about. It has to be age appropriate, and it is just one angle of equipping our young people for the rest of their lives to look after themselves, to look after their loved ones, to look after their friends, and to be aware that there is help out there."

Three Dads Walking has now raised almost £900,000, which enables them to accelerate plans to open their Hopeline UK helpline to 24 hours a day.

I'm worried about my or someone I know's mental health?

CALM

CALM, or the Campaign Against Living Miserably, runs a free and confidential helpline and webchat – open from 5pm to midnight every day, for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems.

It also supports those bereaved by suicide, through the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP).

  • Phone their helpline: 0800 585858 (Daily, 5pm to midnight)

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Mind

Mind is a mental health charity which promotes the views and needs of people with mental health issues.

It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

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PAPYRUS

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice you can contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.

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Samaritans

Samaritans is an organisation offering confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

  • Phone 116 123 (a free 24 hour helpline)

  • Email: jo@samaritans.org

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YoungMinds

YoungMinds is a resource with information on child and adolescent mental health, but also offers services for parents and professionals.

It is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health, and wants to make sure all young people can get the mental health support they need, when they need it

  • YoungMinds Textline - Text YM to 85258

  • Phone Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4pm)

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