There were 5,583 suicides in England and Wales in 2021 (ONS: 2022). That is the equivalent of 1 suicide every 90 minutes. Approximately 75% of these are male – and suicide is the most common end of life cause in men under 49.
I have spoken at my fathers funeral. I have spoken at my mothers funeral. Those were difficult and painful speeches to make – but what got me through those was that sitting in front of me was my family – my brother, my sister, my wife Joolz, my daughter, Cyan and my son, Cal. Cal would tell me after those speeches: “Dad, I am so proud of you for being able to do that.” And I would say: “Hey mate, it was only possible because I could see you in front of me”.
I never imagined that on March 26th 2021, I would be standing in front of family and friends – speaking about Cal.
When we lost our son Cal at 23 years old to the illness that is suicide in January 2021 – we were broken and torn as a family. How could such a beautiful, happy, loved by all young man get to that point where the only option for him was to take himself out of this existence. His pain, daily struggles with depression and anxiety were so more profound and deeply embedded than we were aware of as a family. So many people used to look at us as one of the ‘closest, tight and loving families’ they knew – it was even harder for us as his parents and his sister to come to terms with his departure.
As a family impacted by this – we were compelled and committed to do all we can to reduce these numbers. Signing the authorisation form to commit Cal to his cremation at the age of 23 years old was by far THE most painful, heart-wrenching thing I have ever done in my life and will haunt me the rest of my days. I wish no father to ever have to do similar.
We set up The Calzy Foundation as a C.I.C in November 2021. It is a movement – a tribe – created by and led by young people: a campaign voice for young people who are silently screaming to express their pain, anxiety and their sense of chaos.
One of our key fundraising objectives is to enable us to offer FREE places on our new Mental Health First Response (MHFR) training to young adults (18-30) – providing them tools, resources and strategies that build their resilience and supports their own mental health and that of friends, family and colleagues.
And on the auspicious date of 10th September, 2022 – World Suicide Prevention Day – we will be running our first round of MHFR training to 8 young adults who have reached out to The Calzy Foundation – touched by Cal’s story in relation to their own struggles and challenges.
MHFR is a unique training in mental health first aid. It combines a practical approach to mental health first aid training with up to date advice and strategies.
The course explores what mental health means and how it can affect our lives. Participants learn about the different conditions that people may experience and what they can do to help them and themselves. It looks at how reducing stigma and changing culture can help us all live mentally healthier lives.
Our MHFR training includes a section on ways in which young people can start to feel empowered to look after their own self-care.
Created by Digital Bricks, the MHFR training is CPD certified within a global accreditation programme.
Building resilience is at the heart of the course and alongside important mental health education, participants receive a package of self-care and evidence-based strategies for dealing with their own and others’ mental health.
Our aim through the next year is to continue campaigning and fundraising to enable us to increase the provision of free MHFR training places for young adults – who recognise the value of preventative self-care and resilience building..
The Calzy Foundation will continue to work towards that day when each and every one of our young generation can truly say: “Today is going to be okay – tomorrow now feels possible’