Andrew Clark, from Dunholme, is hoping to help others feeling suicidal – 25 years after he contemplated taking his own life.
Andrew works as a Legal Services Officer at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) and started his mission to walk 1,200 miles in just 12 months in October, after being inspired by a suicide prevention conference he attended in September.
“I was listening to a gentleman called Mike Palmer, one of three dads who all lost their daughters to suicide and joined up to raise the profile while walking, and I thought this is definitely something I could do and something that relates to me.” explains Andrew.
Money raised will be equally shared between Lincolnshire NHS charity to support LPFT’s work on suicide prevention by providing more staff training in suicide awareness and R;pple; a charity which intervenes when a person searches on the internet for methods to take their own life.
“I thought R;pple was quite innovative” says Andrew, “the family who set it up lost a family member to suicide two years ago and the sister of the deceased is an IT expert, so she came up with the idea of being able to intercept people’s searches.”
And for the dad-of-three, who will soon turn 50, he knows only too well how beneficial it is to have the right support in place. “I’ve been there at the point where you can rationalise suicidal thoughts, so I know what it feels like but thankfully, I’m now very much in recovery.” he continues, “There’s a taboo about suicide but the profile needs raising, and I hope I can play a small part in helping to promote the great work being done surrounding suicide prevention.”
Andrew started walking regularly during lockdown as a way of destressing and improving his mood and wants to highlight how much it can help. “If you have the energy to do so, and you are feeling depressed, if you can go out for a walk even if it is a short one, it really does improve your mental wellbeing.” Andrew adds, “Albeit it seems like a lot of energy to spend when you feel depressed, it really does pay dividends.”
Despite being unable to do any big walking trips away as he is also a carer, Andrew is determined to do all he can to hit 100 miles a month, and as of writing this article he has already completed 201 miles.
Fiona Bone, Suicide Prevention Lead at LPFT, said “We are really grateful to Andrew and wish him all the best with his fundraising efforts. The money he raises could make a big difference in helping us to continue our work supporting and educating staff around suicide prevention.”
To find out more about Andrew’s journey and to donate visit https://bit.ly/3Tr0gHD