Bereft dad stages mental health plea
Suicide prevention campaign at parliament
A grieving dad is taking his suicide prevention campaign to Holyrood.
For three days in December, 68-yearold Frank Ritchie of Lockerbie will be standing up for people with mental health problems by staging an exhibition at the Scottish Parliament building.
And he is calling on Dumfries and Galloway Council to step up to the mark and increase services for people in need of help.
He is being driven by his own experiences since his beloved son, Alan, took his own life at Lockerbie railway station in June 2015, at the age of 31.
Mr Ritchie said: “It is part of the healing process for me, trying to cope with losing Alan. I’m doing it in his memory with the hope of preventing more suicides and so that other families don’t have to try to cope with the aftermath like mine are.”
From December 11 to 13, he will set up camp at Holyrood to lobby MSPs.
He wants to raise awareness of the issues and gaps in help and support being faced across Scotland and, in particular, money spent on more services to help suicide prevention and bereaved families in Dumfries and Galloway.
Mr Ritchie said: “I am working to remove the stigma, prejudice and discrimination that still surrounds suicide and the tragic consequences that engulf family and friends trying to continue with their lives.
“I am grateful to Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell who has sponsored the exhibition for me at Holyrood.”
He is involved with a number of mental health charities and, while at Holyrood, will be joined by other fathers who have lost their sons to suicide.
They will include Philip Mitchell whose son, former Queen of the South The bereaved dad is hoping to raise awareness of suicide The late Chris Mitchell, pictured when playing for Queens
footballer, Chris Mitchell, was 27 when, in May 2016, he died after being hit by a train at Stirling.
Meanwhile, Mr Ritchie is calling on the public to take time to watch an online 20-minute training video at zerosuicidealliance.com which explains how to help someone
in distress, rather than walk away.
He said: “If someone on the platform had seen this video when Alan was in distress on that day in 2015 they may have been able to help. And I might still have my son.”