3 Dads Walking back LJMU suicide report

A CAMPAIGN to include suicide education in the school curriculum has been backed by an LJMU report into the issue.

The 3 Dads Walking – Tim, Andy and Mike – who met the Education Secretary earlier this week – said the feasibility study in Merseyside schools was critical new evidence to support the change.

Tim, who also met recently with PM Rishi Sunak, said: “We are really heartened that the evidence in this LJMU report backs up what we are saying.”

Tim Owen, Andy Airey, and Mike Palmer started fundraising in 2021 in memory of their daughters Emily, Sophie and Beth who sadly took their own lives when still only young.

LJMU’s School of Psychology was funded last year by the Liverpool Integrated Care Board (formerly Clinical Commissioning Group) to identify what parents, young people, and professionals thought of a school-based suicide prevention programme.

Their findings show that despite the taboo around suicide, pupils welcomed inclusion of suicide awareness in their RSHE lessons and that staff, despite heavy school workloads, were equally positive.

Dr Emma Ashworth, a senior lecturer in psychology, who led the scoping exercise, said: “I’ve met with the ‘3 dads’ a couple of times and have felt inspired by their commitment and drive.

“We all recognise that more needs to be done, with suicide being the biggest killer of young people in the UK. But we have to do this right and be led by the evidence.”

Emma and her team which includes Dr Pooja Saini, consultant to James’ Place suicide prevention charity, spoke to staff, pupils and parents at three schools and found:

-              School staff and pupils think it’s a good idea to include suicide awareness in RSHE lessons, and feel that more is urgently needed

-              Early secondary school would be the best time to incorporate suicide awareness and prevention lessons, and this could be built upon each year

-              Success would require specific training for school staff, or inclusion of external professionals

-              Sessions would have to account for neurodiversity, disability, cultural and family beliefs, stigma

-              Schools would need support and services to refer children to following any disclosures.

In 2022 the 3 Dads’ walk between all four UK parliaments sparked a Parliamentary debate and the government has since promised to consider suicide awareness as part of the current review of the Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum.

Added Dr Ashworth: “The dads’ campaign has begun this national conversation around how we care for our young people. Its inclusion in the national curriculum would take this debate up to a whole new level which can only help them achieve their goal.

“Nationally, we need to change the level of support that children and young people receive, whether it is for suicidal thoughts or other mental distress. We have now taken what we learned from the scoping study, and are currently piloting a suicide prevention programme in two secondary schools in Merseyside.”

See the full report https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17968/.



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