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University of Suffolk students take on Ipswich HOPEWalk in bid to shatter stigma surrounding suicide

Walkers get ready for the Papyrus HOPEWalk. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Walkers get ready for the Papyrus HOPEWalk. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich Waterfront was transformed into a sea of purple as dozens of students took on a two-mile walk to bring greater awareness of suicide and its prevention to the community.

Aiming to shatter the stigma and “start a conversation” about suicide, the University of Suffolk hosted its own HOPEWalk in Ipswich yesterday inspired by a national event of the same name launched by young suicide prevention charity Papyrus.

Participants were encouraged to wear purple and donate £5 as they prepared to take on the walk, which took students and members of the public on a scenic tour of Ipswich starting from the University’s Waterfront building and finishing at Cult Café.

Professor Emma Bond, a professor of socio-technical research at the university, was one of the organisers.

She said: “Mental health is a growing problem and teachers and parents are not being given training to respond.

Walkers begin their 2 mile Papyrus HOPEWalk around Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWNWalkers begin their 2 mile Papyrus HOPEWalk around Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“Papyrus was one of the organisations that did workshops at the (university’s Hidden Harms) conference.

“After that, they did two days’ training around supporting young people who were feeling suicidal.

“We’ve been working with Papyrus for a while as a university.

“Young people’s mental health and raising awareness of where students can get help is really important to us.”

Dog getting ready for the Papyrus HOPEWalk. Picture: GREGG BROWNDog getting ready for the Papyrus HOPEWalk. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Every penny raised from the HOPEWalk will help to extend the hours of Papyrus’ national helpline, HOPELineUK.

Donations are also set to help train more people across the UK as suicide first-aiders. Head of student services Chantalle Hawley said: “At today’s HOPEWalk we raised £385.80 in donations in aid of Papyrus.

“Over 50 HOPEwalkers from the University of Suffolk, the Students’ Union and Farlingaye High School walked through Ipswich to raise awareness of the charity Papyrus and prevention of young suicide.

“The Summer Readathon from Farlingaye High School have pledged a further donation of nearly £500.

Papyrus HOPEWalk 2017 GB 4Papyrus HOPEWalk 2017 GB 4

“We have been overwhelmed by the support of our HOPEwalkers, businesses and local mental health and wellbeing organisations and would like to extend a massive thank you to everyone involved.

“We hope that today’s event gives people the confidence to talk openly about how they are feeling.”

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