Three Dads Walking set off on their third epic charity trek to raise funds for suicide prevention

ITV Granada Reports' correspondent Mel Barham joined the dads in Scotland as they set off on their latest charity walk.


Three dads grieving their daughters' suicides have set off on their third epic charity walk.

The three fathers who united as 3 Dads Walking have already raised more than £1 million pounds for the charity PAPYRUS(Prevention of Young Suicide), based in Warrington.

Mike Palmer from Sale in Greater Manchester, Andy Airey from Cumbria and Tim Owen from Norfolk completed their first challenge in 2021 by walking 300 miles.

A year later, they doubled that distance by trekking 600 miles, walking between the parliaments of all four nations from Northern Ireland through Scotland, Wales and England, urging politicians to make suicide prevention part of the National Curriculum in schools.

Now, they are walking a further 500 miles, covering new ground by walking from Stirling in Scotland through the eastern counties of England.

En route, they will visit some of the newly-opened or soon-to-open PAPYRUS offices and hubs in Stirling, Newcastle, Leeds and Norwich.

Watch the moment Three Dads Walking set off on their latest trek.


Mike Palmer, who lost his 17-year-old daughter Beth to suicide in 2020, says the 3 Dads Walking have unfinished business.

“Our third walk is borne from the belief that more precious young lives can be saved. Progress is being made but the fact is we hear of more tragic stories nearly every week and there is so much work still to do.

Mike Palmer is walking in memory of daughter Beth Credit: ITV Granada

“Walking and talking is what we do. Smashing the stigma around mental health and suicide is our goal.

"With every step, we remember our girls and this gives us the courage to make a difference.”

Andy Airey, from Morland in Cumbria, who lost his 29-year-old daughter Sophie to suicide in 2018, said: “This walk is about refocusing our fundraising efforts to help PAPYRUS achieve its goals and extend the lifesaving work the charity does.

“Along the way we will talk to loads of people, some of whom will be new to the charity, we will raise funds to help PAPYRUS open more offices, train more people and ultimately stop preventable suicides. Together we can save lives.”

From left, Beth Palmer, Sophie Airey and Emily Owen Credit: ITV Granada

In 2022, 3 Dads Walking attracted more than 100,000 signatures for an online petition to have suicide prevention included on the school curriculum, prompting a debate in the House of Commons.

Shortly afterwards the dads received a national Pride of Britain Award.


Four out of five individuals considering suicide give some sign of their intentions, either verbally or behaviourally.

Suicide: What are the warning signs to look out for?

Four out of five individuals considering suicide give some sign of their intentions, either verbally or behaviourally.

Each tab below has signs to look out for in a person considering suicide.

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Suicide threats

Almost everyone who attempts or completes suicide has given warning signs through their words or behaviours. Do not ignore any suicide threats.

The following statements may indicate serious suicidal feelings:

  • “I’d be better off dead.”

  • “I won’t be bothering you much longer.”

  • “You’ll be better off without me around.”

  • “I hate my life.”

  • “I am going to kill myself.”

Suicide threats are not always verbal.

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Depression

Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide attempts. Mental or addictive disorders are associated with 90% of suicide.

One in 10 youth suffer from mental illness serious enough to be impaired, yet fewer than 20% receive treatment.

Depression can be exhibited in many ways including the following which are detailed in more depth:

  • Sudden, abrupt changes in personality

  • Expressions of hopelessness and despair

  • Declining grades and school performance

  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed

  • Increased irritability and aggressiveness

  • Withdrawal from family, friends and relationships

  • Lack of hygiene

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

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Anger, increased irritability

Recent research has identified a connection between interpersonal violence and suicide.

Suicide is associated with fighting for both males and females, across all ethnic groups, and for youth living in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

You should be concerned if a friend is exhibiting unusually irritable behaviour.

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Lack of interest

You should be concerned if a friend suddenly starts to lose interest in sports or hobbies that they used to enjoy.

  • The captain of the football team no longer wants to be on the team.

  • A dancer decides to leave the team because she does not like it anymore.

  • Your music-loving friend decides to quit the band.

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Sudden increase or decrease in appetite

  • A friend of yours that typically eats more than anyone you know barely eats or skips lunch.

  • Someone eating noticeably more without adding any additional exercise to their daily routine.

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Sudden changes in appearance

  • He/She is not dressing as they typically would.

  • Lack of personal hygiene.

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Dwindling academic performance

  • A model student suddenly failing classes or not turning in assignments.

  • Lack of concern for school, classes, and grades.

  • Grades dropping suddenly

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Preoccupation with death and suicide

This can be seen throughout their:

  • Essays and writings about death

  • Poems about death

  • Artwork or drawings depicting death

  • Social media posts and comments

  • Talking a lot about death or dying

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Previous suicide attempts

Youth who have attempted suicide are at risk to do it again.

In fact, they are eight times more likely than youth who have never attempted suicide to make another suicide attempt.

  • One out of three suicide deaths is not the individual’s first attempt.

  • The risk for completing suicide is more than 100 times greater during the first year after an attempt.

  • Take any instance of deliberate self-harm seriously.

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Tim Owen, from Norwich, who lost his 19-year-old daughter Emily to suicide in 2020, said: “Like many, I was shocked to find out that suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK, and often wondered if our stories would have been different if we or our girls had known about PAPYRUS and the charity’s HOPELINE247 service.

“Our walk will highlight the lifesaving work PAPYRUS deliver through a growing number of hubs embedded in communities across the UK.

"The more money we raise as we walk, the more the charity will expand across the nation and the more lives will be saved.”

During their two previous challenges, 3 Dads Walking were overwhelmed by public kindness and generosity.

Hollywood actors Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman each donated £10,000 as did soccer legend Lou Macari who lost his son to suicide.

Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of Warrington-based PAPYRUS, said: “The 3 Dads Walking have already captured the nation’s hearts, after all what could be more important than the wellbeing of our children and saving young lives?

“Andy, Mike and Tim are ordinary dads who will be continuing their extraordinary mission to raise awareness and spread hope, helping to start vital conversations about suicide that too many families feel unable or unwilling to have.

“In their efforts to raise much-needed funds for our charity, the dads have already enabled us to grow and 2024 will see PAPYRUS further extend its work into the heart of many communities across the UK.”


Should suicide prevention be taught in schools? We ask the question in our podcast, From the North

Worried about 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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James’ Place

Suicide prevention centre in Liverpool offering life-saving support to men in suicidal crisis.

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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 HOPELINE247 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.

HOPELINE247 is the charity’s confidential 24 hour 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.

HOPELINE247 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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