suicide cycle

Two West Belfast men are walking all the way to Kerry in a bid to raise money to help fight suicide.

James Perkins, 42, and his friend Che Matthews, 41, will leave behind the bright lights of Belfast on Saturday for the 350-mile trek.

And along the way they are hoping to raise invaluable funds for PIPS – which was established in North Belfast in 2003 following the suicides of 14 young people.

The latest figures suggest that almost one person takes their own life every day in Northern Ireland – a considerable rise from around one a week in 1970.

But the problem could be even greater.

“There was three suicides within the space of a month in St James and we just thought ‘we need to do something’,” said PhD student James.

“We are walking from Belfast to Killarney for PIPS Belfast because far too many lives are being lost to suicide.”

Of the 318 who died by suicide in 2015, the vast majority were male.

And in the Belfast area alone, almost two people a week died at their own hands.

Among the most deprived the situation is much worse, with eight people dying for every one from the least deprived.

James said the idea to take a long walk for suicide first raised its head in the pub last summer.

“We were joking about at the pub over a pint and then whenever the wee lads killed themselves in St James we thought we could do it to raise money for PIPS,” he said.

Among those that ended their own lives in St James was his sister’s Godson.

“I am doing this in memory of Daniel Hillman,” he added. “Suicide is a massive problem in the area. In the west it’s rife.

“It’s young and old and it has affected everybody over the years.”

James and his pal Che are setting off on their journey to Killarney on Saturday, July 29.

In training for months, he said they will be covering 26 miles a day and will reach their destination on the tenth day.

The towns they plan to stop in each night along the way are: Loughbrickland, Dundalk, Kells, Mullingar, Ballycumber, Aglish, Birdhill, Adare, Abbeyfeale and Killarney.

While they have been offered somewhere to stay in the first three towns, plus Ballycumber, they are still hoping to find a free bed at every other stop along the way.

“On July 29th 2017, my friend Che and I are walking from Belfast to Killarney (260 miles) over a period of ten days (26 miles a day) to raise funds for PIPS. PIPS are a community based suicide awareness and prevention charity who offer care services for people contemplating suicide and family support for those bereaved by suicide.

“In recent years, suicide rates in Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland have increased drastically and more recently a number of young people in our local community have also lost their lives to suicide.
“It is therefore hoped that by walking to Killarney, me and Che can raise as much money as possible to help other young people who are perhaps contemplating suicide to get the assistance they need before it is too late.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here