Borders man joins campaign to highlight tragic rise in number of Scottish suicides

Frank Ritchie pictured at the launch of the Mental Health Foundation's  ribbon projection in honour of World Mental Health Day at Buchanan Galleries. (Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group)
Frank Ritchie pictured at the launch of the Mental Health Foundation's ribbon projection in honour of World Mental Health Day at Buchanan Galleries. (Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group)

A Borders man who lost his son to suicide, joined other friends and family members at a switch-on event in Glasgow to highlight the tragic rise in the number of people taking their own lives across Scotland.

Frank Ritchie’s son Alan was just 31-years-old when he took his own life in 2015 at Lockerbie Train Station.

Frank said: “Alan had suffered from depression and anxiety for half his lifetime.

“He was popular, excellent in his school studies and sport, particularly football – but sadly he always thought of himself as a failure.”

Since Alan’s death, Frank has campaigned tirelessly for mental health charities to raise more awareness of the greater need for support for mental health problems, and to give practical advice on how we can all help someone that we are concerned about.

Giant images of a green ribbon, the international symbol of mental health, were projected onto two of Glasgow’s most prominent buildings – the Buchanan Galleries and the SECC Armadillo – ahead of World Mental Health Day (today) in support of this year’s #SuicidePrevention theme.

Recent figures highlighted that Scotland now has the highest suicide rate in the UK, with two lives being claimed each and every day – a total of 784 in 2018.

The green ribbon projections will raise awareness of the devastating rise in the number of people taking their own lives in Scotland over the last year, particularly the rise in the number of young people under 25, which had risen to 96 – its highest level since 2007.

Toni Guigliano, Policy Manager at Mental Health Foundation Scotland said: “Scotland’s increasing suicide rate is both concerning and devastating.

“We now have the highest suicide rate in the UK and the number of young people taking their own lives has risen to its highest levels since 2007.

“Our society is increasingly priding itself on self-reliance, families and communities are further apart, job insecurity is rising and our young people are under extreme pressures to succeed.

“We’ve repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to introduce mental health education in the school curriculum, building on the experiences of Finland and Ireland, to give young people the coping skills they need to navigate life’s ups and downs.

“But preventing suicide is not limited to health services – it’s everyone’s business.

“Each and every one of us can save a life by starting a conversation, particularly if we suspect someone is going through a difficult time or if we notice a change in behaviour.

“We don’t need to be experts in mental health – we just need to become better listeners.”

For more information, visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk.