Mum who lost son says we can all encourage hope ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day

Two people performing a tandem sky dive

Sarah does her sky dive

University news

Friday 08 September 2023

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A mum who lost her son to suicide says that he “was with me” when she took the plunge to dive out of a plane at 14,000 feet.

Sarah Horton-Walsh faced her fear of heights by sky diving in memory of her son, Harry Horton-Walsh who lost his life to suicide.

Sarah, Coventry University’s Head of School of Marketing and Management, was part of a group of 21 of Harry’s family and friends who jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet to raise money for PAPYRUS, the national Charity for the Prevention of Young Suicide, on 12 August 2023.

The multi-storey car park at work gives me the heebie-jeebies, and at first the jump was sheer terror because you fall at a rate of knots and it's horrible. But then after that second has gone, even though you're still falling really fast before they open the parachute, it's just exhilaration.

It's mad - I've never had a feeling like it and people keep telling me that I never stopped smiling. But honestly, I felt like Harry was with me. It was such a strong feeling I could feel it inside and it was lovely. I can't wait to do another one.

Sarah Horton-Walsh

So far, Sarah and her family and friends have raised £5,572 for PAPYRUS with donations still coming in slowly and are really proud to have done this ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday, 10 September, which has the theme of ‘Creating Hope Through Action’.

Sarah spoke about how this message serves as a powerful call to action and reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and that through our actions, we can encourage hope and strengthen prevention.

It's about having a series of small or large actions that can be used to create hope. I have long found it really difficult to see hope and I try not to look too far forward, but doing things like the skydive gives me that little bit of hope and I’m just going to hold on to that.

Whether it’s a skydive or just a conversation with somebody. There are everyday moments that we can all contribute to - a bit of action that can give other people hope.  

Suicide is a really horrible thing that in most cases is preventable and it’s shocking that it kills more people under the age of 35 than anything else. It's catapulted me into a world that when you start to scratch the surface you find that people want to feel that they can talk, whether it's for them or for somebody else and it’s not just about looking at a person’s mental health, people feel suicidal due to all sorts of things such as any form of physical or emotional abuse, alcohol abuse and financial insecurity.

Sarah Horton-Walsh

Find out more about PAPYRUS.