Bereft dad stages men­tal health plea

Suicide pre­ven­tion cam­paign at par­lia­ment

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - NEWS - Sharon Lip­trott

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.”

Frank Ritchie

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