Mum of woman who took own life carrying Baton of Hope in suicide prevention event

Jane Walsham, whose daughter Jodi took her own life, is carrying the Baton of Hope to raise awareness of suicide prevention. Credit: ITV News

The mother of a woman who died by suicide has said her mission is to break the "stigma" around the issue.

Jayne Walsham, whose daughter Jodi took her own life in January 2021, is taking part in a baton relay event to prevent and raise awareness of suicide.

She organised the North East leg and is carrying the baton in Newcastle as part of her efforts to combat stigma around the topic.

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.

  • Video report by Kris Jepson, broadcast 27/06/23.

Ms Walsham, from Humshaugh, Northumberland, said: “I believe everyone needs to unite and support suicide prevention to really make a difference.

"Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in this country and we need to start talking about it.

"We are losing too much potential and promise and it’s my mission to break the stigma.

"The Baton of Hope will help to bring both change and awareness and I am proud to be leading the tour in Newcastle.”

Her daughter Jodi had ASD and battled with undiagnosed ADHD, lack of support and not receiving the help she was entitled to, which triggered heightened anxiety.

When two job offers were withdrawn due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Jodi’s mental health declined.

Jodi took her own life in January 2021 after struggling during the Covid pandemic. Credit: The Baton of Hope

According to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics the North East had the highest rates of suicide compared to other regions in England with 14.1 deaths by suicide per 100,000, compared to the North West which had the second highest at 12.9.

Throughout Tuesday, the baton will stop for organised events in Newcastle and the surrounding area, including at Spanish City, Millfield House, Grey’s Monument, the Royal Victoria Infirmary and St James’ Park.

People will also gather at Newcastle University for a talk delivered by the mayor promoting the work being done by local charities including Anxious Minds, If u care share, The Headlight Project and Samaritans.

The Baton of Hope arrived in Newcastle on Tuesday to raise awareness of suicide prevention. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

At 6pm, the Baton will reach its final destination, St James’ Park, where there will be a free event with speakers and entertainers.

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.

“I am deeply moved and humbled to see truly inspirational people from across the country carry this baton as a symbol of compassion, hope and responsibility.

"Responsibility because everyone of us can play a part in tackling the challenges presented by suicide.

"For too long, the stigma associated with having the conversations that we so desperately need to have has taken those closest to us.

"We have a huge mountain to climb in breaking this stigma, raising awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing and re-calibrating our approach to the societal catastrophe created by suicide, but the Baton of Hope Tour marks the start of positive change.”

Where will The Baton of Hope go next?

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

  • Sheffield- 28 June

  • Manchester- 29 June

  • Belfast- 30 June

  • Cardiff- 1 July

  • Bristol- 2 July

  • Birmingham- 3 July

  • Milton Keynes- 4 July

  • Brighton- 5 July

  • London- 6 July

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

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