Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, raised the plight of a local Cumbrian mental health campaigner and his group’s tireless campaigning during Prime Minister’s Questions today.
Silence fell over the House of Commons as the Penrith MP paid tribute to ‘3 Dads Walking’, a group of suicide-bereaved fathers, Andy Airey, Tim Owen and Mike Palmer, who have raised more than £1 million for young-suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS following the tragic losses of their daughters Sophie, Emily and Beth to suicide. One of the fathers, Andy Airey is a constituent of Dr Hudson and the pair have campaigned together to improve mental health awareness in young people.
Through his intervention in Parliament today, Dr Hudson has successfully secured a meeting with The Prime Minister and 3 Dads Walking to further discuss embedding age-appropriate suicide awareness in the curriculum to equip young people with the tools they need to save lives. An exclusive meeting like this is tough to secure and further highlights the importance of protecting our young people from the risks of suicide.
Dr Hudson has long supported the 3 Dads Walking, joining them on the Penrith leg of their mammoth charity trek, tabling a successful Early Day Motion supported by politicians from across the political spectrum, and bolstering their widely successful petition. The petition to make suicide prevention a compulsory part of the school curriculum has garnered more than 157,000 signatures and will be debated in Parliament on 13th March.
Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, said:
“It was an honour to raise such a crucially important issue as young suicide at the very highest level of government and I look forward to further championing mental health issues as I have done since my very first speech in Parliament. I sincerely thank the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for agreeing to meet with me and the 3 Dads Walking, this is a brilliant step forward in a long fought campaign.
“I, along with the Prime Minister pay tribute to Andy, Mike and Tim who have campaigned bravely and tirelessly on this for so long. The fortitude they have shown to create a movement of love and positivity from such personal tragedy is humbling and I would like to again thank them for all they are doing to help our young people.
“We now have a brilliant opportunity to try to help save many young lives through compassionate policy making and I look forward to continue to working with Andy, Mike and Tim on this important campaign.”
Andy Airey and the 3 Dads Walking said:
“We are delighted that Dr Neil Hudson MP was one of the first MP’s to support our call to make suicide prevention a compulsory part of the school curriculum and has chosen to ask this question in PMQ’s.
“Suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK we, as a society, need to talk openly about the subject so that we can equip our young people with the knowledge and understanding that will help them deal with challenges they may face.
“Getting suicide prevention onto the school curriculum is a step along the way.
“We look forward to hearing a response from the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education.”
The Penrith MP is a passionate mental health campaigner, having been spurred into politics after witnessing the horrible toll that the 2001 Foot and Mouth crisis took on rural communities. Overseeing some of devastating culls that came to represent the crisis, Dr Hudson – now the only Veterinary Surgeon in the Commons – the MP brings real life experience to Parliament.
As such, he raised the need for parity of esteem between mental and physical health in his maiden parliamentary speech; triggered an official Parliamentary Inquiry into Rural Mental Health as part of his Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee role; and supported a range of initiative and bills promoting better mental health.
Today’s development follows a meeting earlier in the week between Dr Hudson and Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho MP, where the Penrith MP again made sure the Government was aware of the benefits of promoting suicide awareness in schools and colleges.
Dr Hudson has worked closely with PAPYRUS Prevention of Suicide which believes many young suicides can be prevented and we can all play a part in making our communities suicide-safe.
Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, said:
“We have to smash the stigma around suicide and equip people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.
“We have to start difficult but important conversations about suicide, so young people who are struggling with life know they are not alone and that help is available.
“Remarkably, the 3 Dads Walking have already helped to change the landscape by prompting families across the country to have those conversations.
“We must all work together to help get messages to children about keeping themselves suicide-safe. Government can support that. PAPYRUS is keen to see children having access to suicide prevention in the classroom so that nowhere is off limits for life-saving conversations.”
For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email email@example.com
In the Chamber at PMQs, Dr Neil Hudson MP, asked:
“Sadly, suicide is the biggest killer of young people under 35 in the UK. My constituent Andy Airey along with Tim Owen and Mike Palmer are the ‘3 Dads Walking’.
“Andy, Tim and Mike, each tragically lost their precious daughters Sophie, Emily and Beth to suicide, and have campaigned tirelessly though charity walking for suicide awareness and prevention to be included in the school curriculum.
“I have been humbled to support them, including joining them on their UK walk as they came through Penrith, with their petition which is due for Parliamentary Debate on 13th March, and with my Early Day Motion, which has support from right across this House.
“Would the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to the 3 Dads and would he meet with me and the 3 Dads to discuss suicide prevention, and ultimately save young lives in the future?”
Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak replied:
"Well Mr Speaker, of course I pay tribute to Andy, Tim and Mike, especially for channelling their own personal tragedies into such positive action to prevent this happening to other families. That is inspiring and they deserve enormous credit.
"The Government is taking action to improve the provision of mental health services for young people in schools and colleges. But I would be delighted to meet with him and Andy, Mike and Tim to discuss what more we can do."
In the Chamber Dr Hudson wore his ‘Time To Talk’ badge ahead of Time to Talk Day 2023 will take place 2 February 2023, run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, in partnership with the Co-op and with support from Time To Change Wales, See Me and Change Your Mind / Inspire.
Time to Talk Day is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. Happening every year, it’s a day for friends, families, communities, and workplaces to come together to talk, listen and change lives.