Our organisational member and BACP-accredited service The Counselling Foundation is a driving force behind the Baton of Hope suicide awareness and prevention initiative.

The Baton of Hope will tour the UK next summer with the aim of opening up conversations about suicide, smashing the stigma and working towards a zero suicide society.  

The baton will be carried by families and friends who have been bereaved by suicide.

Due to start in Glasgow on June 25, it will visit 12 towns and cities in two weeks on its tour of the UK ending at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

Baton of Hope

Emma Branch, chief executive of the Counselling Foundation, a BACP-accredited counselling and training organisation based in Hertfordshire, said: “We wanted to be involved in this initiative because we have so many more clients coming to us with suicidal ideation and suicidal intent and we feel this is a hugely significant issue.

“Suicide numbers in the UK have stagnated over the last 20 years with suicide being the biggest killer of men and women under the age of 35. Something has to be done to change the status quo.

“Although people might find mental health easier to talk about, talking about death by suicide with all the questions it brings up can still feel really challenging.

“For us it’s raising awareness of suicide, of what people can do, and of organisations that offer training around prevention. A random conversation at the right time might make all the difference.”

Raising awareness

Emma added: “Suicide touches more people than we realise. Around 17 people a day in the UK die by suicide.

“How many people will those 17 people know, family, friends, colleagues? A recent research study indicated that 135 people are touched by every death by suicide. That’s over 200,000 people in the UK each year.

“The ripple effect of suicide is massive. And we don’t talk about that.

“How many people don’t talk about it and end up needing mental health support themselves? People whose lives have been impacted by suicide are 65% more likely to make an attempt on their own life,” she said.

Mike McCarthy, a former BBC and Sky News presenter and reporter, is one of the co-founders of the initiative after losing his son Ross to suicide in 2021. 

Ross had struggled with depression for a decade when he died and requested that his family campaign for better mental health support.

Mike said: “Suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK.  We can’t go on just accepting this status quo. It’s time to have a conversation, ask uncomfortable questions and start saving lives.”

Visit the Baton of Hope website to find out more about the campaign.