Baton of Hope arrives in Salford & Manchester to raise suicide awareness

The Baton of Hope, a nationwide relay aiming to raise awareness of suicide in young people arrived in Salford and Manchester on Thursday.

It's the brainchild of former BBC & SKY journalist Mike McCarthy, whose son Ross took his own life during the Covid-19 pandemic aged just 31.

The campaign, organised by charity The Baton of Hope, will tour round 12 cities across the UK, starting in Glasgow on Sunday 25 June and finishing on Downing Street London on Thursday 6 July.

What is the Baton of Hope

What is the Baton of Hope?

The Baton of Hope was co-founded by Mike McCarthy, whose son Ross suffered from depression for a decade before taking his own life in 2021, leaving behind a young son, a fiancée, and a heartfelt request that his family campaign for better mental health support.

Mr McCarthy is committed to honouring this final wish through the charity.

The Baton of Hope aims to be the biggest suicide prevention initiative in the UK.Credit: The Baton of Hope

He said: “The significance of this event cannot be overestimated."For the first time, a physical symbol that can be passed from bearer to bearer – from sufferer to sufferer – is spreading a message that we needn’t struggle alone.“

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Ross McCarty took his own life in 2021 Credit: Family photo

Speaking to Granada Reports as the baton arrived in MediaCityUK, Mr McCarthy talked of his guilt about not waking up to the issues of suicide earlier.

He said: "When I lost my son and did some research and recognised the magnitude of this problem, I felt guilty that it had not crossed my radar as a Journalist."

Suicide remains in the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35 in the UK.

The 3 Dads Walking group are hoping to change that.

Today they joined Mr McCarthy and others, as the baton travelled from Salford Quays, to Old Trafford and to the Etihad Stadium.

Mike Palmer from Sale lost his daughter Beth to suicide in 2020. She was just 17-years-old.

Speaking inside Old Trafford along with his fellow dads Andy and Tim, Mike said: "It's a story of hope, and its about getting the message out there."

Also on hand was former Bolton & England Manager Sam Allardyce. He joined Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to welcome the baton and the relay teams to Old Trafford.

Speaking to Granada Reports, Allardyce paid tribute to campaigners like the 3 Dads.

"You can't beat the 3 dads and what they've done can you?

He added: "There's still a big crisis in this country. We have to do more."

On Granada Reports on Thursday, Elaine Willcox chatted to Mike McCarthy about the Baton and the impact it's had so far.

Where will The Baton of Hope go next?

After its tour of the North West, the Baton of Hope will head to:

  • Belfast- 30 June

  • Cardiff- 1 July

  • Bristol- 2 July

  • Birmingham- 3 July

  • Milton Keynes- 4 July

  • Brighton- 5 July

  • London- 6 July

The baton was also carried through Manchester by Jess Gallier, who lost her father Martin to suicide in 2017 Credit: ITV News

If you are struggling to cope, call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI) or contact other sources of support, such as: