3 Dads Walking meet Education Secretary in bid to get suicide prevention taught in schools

The 3 Dads Walking are back at Westminster to talk to the Education Secretary about putting suicide prevention on the national curriculum Credit: ITV News

Three dads who are fighting to get suicide prevention included on the school curriculum have met with the Education Secretary, as their campaign gathers momentum.

Mike Palmer from Greater Manchester, along with Andy Airey from Cumbria and Tim Owen from Norfolk, otherwise known as 3 Dads Walking all joined forces after their daughters took their own lives.

After meeting the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, they secured a meeting with the Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan, who they sat down with on Monday, 22 May.

Beth, Sophie and Emily all took their own lives. After their deaths, their dads set up 3 Dads Walking

Mike Palmer from Sale, who lost his daughter Beth to suicide in 2020, told ITV News: "3 Dads Walking are delighted to have the opportunity to meet with Gillian Keegan.

"The Secretary of State for Education is instrumental in our quest to make Suicide Prevention compulsory on the schools PSHE curriculum."

Mike Palmer, from 3 Dads Walking, and his daughter Beth who died aged 17 from suicide

He continued, "We have learnt so much in the few years since we lost our beloved daughters Beth, Sophie and Emily who took their own lives, and what really stands out is the fact we as a society are not equipping our precious young people with the life skills they need to keep themselves safe.

"Suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK and around 200 school aged children take their own lives every year.

"Schools are the logical place where they can learn suicide prevention skills in a safe and controlled environment.

"These children will be become adults and parents one day and with this knowledge will become more resilient and happier individuals who will go on to fulfil their potential."

Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan meet 3 Dads Walking to discuss their bid to get suicide prevention on the curriculum.

The Relationship, Sex and Health Eduction curriculum (RSHE) is currently under review.

The Secretary for Education said she is "looking forward" to working with the bereaved fathers to find an "age appropriate" way to teaching issues like suicide prevention.

She said: "What we've agreed is, if they can feed in quite a lot of the experiences and experts that they met into the review.

"Lots of times when you try to get something done in government you need gather a lot of evidence - and there's a lot of evidence collected.

"Then we need to work with the group and the Three Dads over the summer to make sure that we're in a position to put it all together and work out how we tackle the issue in the best way that is age appropriate - which is a theme of the whole review of the RSHE."

The 3 Dads Walking met PM Rishi Sunak at Downing Street in April Credit: 3 Dads Walking

Their online petition gained more than 160,000 signatures and MPs debated the issue on Monday 13 March.

On Tuesday 25 April they were able to meet the Prime Minister to discuss their campaign.

Andy Airey said: "In the league table of surreal events that we’ve found ourselves in since we launched 3 Dads Walking, meeting the Prime Minister was right up at the top.

"Having seen the building and iconic front door so many times on TV, standing on the steps, knowing you were heading in to see the Head of Government was most bizarre.

"He asked about our girls and how we got together and was interested to hear what we had learned as we walked across the country talking to other suicide-bereaved parents.

"It was obvious that, as well as being well briefed about us, he had taken the time to look at our website himself."

Rishi Sunak invited the 3 Dads Walking to Downing Street to talk about their proposals Credit: 3 Dads Walking

3 Dads Walking met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in April

Video created by the Media Team at No 10 Downing Street

The 3 Dads said "We told [Rishi Sunak] that we had an invitation to meet Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education in May; the PM said that he would talk to her about our conversation and make sure our comments and suggestions were included in the newly started review of the RSHE curriculum.

"Before the PM was whisked away we had chance to invite him to walk with us; he said he would if we passed through his Richmond constituency...looks like we’re going to have to plan another walk that passes through North Yorkshire!"

In April, the 3 Dads sat down in the garden of Number 10 to tell PM Rishi Sunak why suicide prevention should be on the curriculum Credit: 3 Dads Walking

Mel Barham speaks to the Three Dads Walking and explores the question Should suicide prevention be taught in schools, in an episode of From the North podcast: