Former Blue Peter host Anthea Turner has joined Lou Macari, professional boxer Nathan Heaney, and organisations across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to raise awareness of suicide prevention. The community campaign, Just Say Something, is a pledge to empower people and ultimately save lives.

Charitable organisation Brighter Futures has worked with Staffordshire Police to create a free video and spark conversations about suicide.

Any death of a loved one, friend, family member, work colleague, or even that of someone you knew through social circles can have a devasting and profound effect on those touched. A host of local celebrities and community organisations have joined forces with a shared goal to save lives in our community.

Tragically, around ten lives are lost to suicide in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Male suicide also continues to be three times as high – a trend that’s continued since the mid-’90s.

It is hoped that this video won’t only be a valuable resource for someone in need but, help others to start a conversation with someone they’re concerned about.

Sophie Henaughan, Operations Manager at Brighter Futures, says: “The importance of talking about mental health cannot be overstressed. As a community, we must do more to help each other and start talking about our mental health. With suicide rates increasing, we must come together and find ways of engaging in conversations. They could be lifesaving. 

“The Just Say Something community campaign aims to drive change, towards a mentally healthy society for all and supports our local communities across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. We want people to lead healthy lives by encouraging more to speak out and talk about their mental health. Just one conversation could save a person’s life. Let’s start talking more.”

The Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline, another Brighter Futures service, supported people to manage thoughts of suicide on 271 occasions in the financial year 2020/21. The majority of these callers coming from the 16-25 age bracket.

PCSO Keith Mellor, who works in Staffordshire Police’s Early Intervention Unit as part of the Harm Reduction Hub in Longton, said: “Often we go out to jobs where an individual is attempting to harm themselves, and members of the public have managed to get this individual to safety.

“When we speak to members of the public, they always say ‘I didn’t know what to say but whatever they said, it often works. That’s the aim of this campaign, to encourage people to talk to each other, to reach out to people who may be in distress, and ask them how they are.

“They may say ‘fine’ but don’t be afraid to ask again, and again, and you may get a different answer. Just a kind word, a friendly face, and a smile can make all the difference to people who may be contemplating taking their own lives.

“The people of Staffordshire, and particularly Stoke-on-Trent, are renowned for being approachable and friendly, and the campaign is focussed on using this at a grassroots level to help vulnerable people. Do not be afraid to speak to someone who you may think is in danger and do not worry about not knowing what to say. Anything you say will help and possibly make a lasting difference in someone’s life. It may even save a life.”

The Just Say Something video will be released in time for World Suicide Prevention Day in September. All music has been provided by Olivia Miceli and will feature real-life snippets from people with experience of suicide loss.

The Just Say Something campaign is one of several #TalkSuicide projects across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to bring individuals, businesses, and communities together to encourage people to talk about suicide. To find out more about #TalkSuicide visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/TalkSuicide

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