3 Dads Walking: Their campaign to get suicide awareness on the school curriculum

3 Dads Walking set out to change the law and stop other families from going through the heartache that they experienced.

Mike Palmer, Andy Airey and Tim Owen, who all lost their daughters to suicide, completed an epic challenge to walk to all four UK parliaments in a bid to get suicide prevention onto the school curriculum.

But despite smashing their target of 100,000 signatures on an online petition, they've been told by the Government that there are no immediate plans to make any changes to the PSHE curriculum and no proposals to debate this in the House of Commons.

In the few weeks since they marched into Westminster for the end of their 600-mile walk, there is now a new Prime Minister, and crucially also a new Secretary of State for Education.

So what does that mean for their campaign to get suicide awareness taught in schools?

(From left to right) Beth Palmer, Sophie Airey, and Emily Owen are the daughters of 3 Dads Walking, who all took their own lives Credit: Family Photos

What do 3 Dads Walking want to achieve?

The 3 Dads' aim is to raise awareness of suicide, and specifically they are calling for suicide prevention to be added to the school curriculum, so that age-appropriate lessons on suicide prevention become a legal requirement.

They set out to get 100,000 signatures on the online petition so the government has to respond to the proposal and the issue can be debated in parliament - a target they reached shortly after their walk ended.

They also wanted to raise more money for the suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS, and they ended up smashing their £1 million target.

This was what they told ITV News they wanted to achieve when they began their walk in September:

How many signatures do they have on their petition?

They currently have more than 142,000 signatures on their petition which is more than they set out to get.

After they reached the target of 100,000 signatures, they received a response from the Government, but it fell short of committing to changing the curriculum.

What has the Government said?

After reaching the 100,000 signatures target on their petition, the 3 Dads Walking were sent the following response from the Government:

"All pupils in schools are taught about mental health as part of the Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, which we made mandatory in 2020 to ensure that all pupils are taught about important topics.

"Through health education, pupils learn to recognise the warning signs of poor mental health, in themselves and in others, which could lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

"This includes learning about the common types of mental illness, such as anxiety and depression, understanding that experiencing poor mental health is not uncommon and knowing where and how to seek support for themselves or someone else, whose mental wellbeing they are worried about.

"Schools can teach older pupils about suicide in an age-appropriate and sensitive way.

"The RSHE statutory guidance advises that schools should approach teaching about self-harm and suicide carefully and should be aware of the risks to pupils from exposure to materials that are instructive rather than preventative, including websites or videos that provide instructions or methods of self-harm or suicide."

(Left to right) Tim Owen, Mike Palmer and Andy Airey, also known as 3 Dads Walking Credit: Papyrus/3 Dads Walking

What do the 3 Dads think about the Government response to their petition?

In response to the government's statement, the 3 Dads said, "quite frankly it's not good enough".

They are disappointed that the Government have not gone far enough.

Mike Palmer, from Sale, voiced his disappointment, saying: "It's a logical thing to do.

"You start early years, you teach young kids about their emotions, and it's ok to be happy, sad and angry.

"You teach them how to reach out, you build on this through primary school, into secondary school, into higher education, universities. You build on it.

"These life skills are surely as important as a lot of the academic qualifications."

Mike Palmer told ITV News that they are determined to continue their campaign to change the curriculum.

Despite the Government's response to their petition, which Mike described as "wholly unsatisfactory", the 3 Dads are hoping they will be able to meet again with the new Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan to discuss their campaign further.

Mike added "Before you lose a child to suicide, you don't realise the scale of the problem. I would implore you to look at your young people and ask, are they equipped to deal with suicidal thoughts, and if they're not, please sign our petition."