Survivors of Suicide Loss

The survivors of suicide

On Saturday 20th November, International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day takes place. It is a day of healing where all those who have been impacted by suicide in any shape or form can connect and share their experiences. Harry Watkins, who lost his twin brother Charlie to suicide in 2017, reflects on the day and the impact on those who are left behind.

In 1999 Senator Harry Reid, who lost his own father to suicide, introduced a resolution to the United States Senate which led to the creation of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The Day is also known as Survivor Day and is intended to bring together those who are affected by suicide.

The Day always falls on the Saturday before American Thanksgiving because holidays are often a hugely challenging time for suicide loss survivors. This is certainly something my father and I resonate with, having lost my twin brother Charlie four years ago.

With the festive season fast approaching, I am reminded once again of the impact of Charlie’s leaving; and it makes me more determined than ever for Charlie’s name to live on.

Losing a brother is hard enough, but losing a twin is immeasurable. As twins, you enter the world together and you expect to go through life by each other’s side. Through every milestone, through every life event; even through the small things, like going for a pint down at the pub. I expected to do that with Charlie for the rest of our lives. We’ll never grow old together and even though I will learn to cope with living without him, I will never forget the bond we shared as twins.

This is why the Charlie Watkins Foundation is a hugely important symbol for all those who continue to struggle the same fight that Charlie had.

We have some incredible projects that have been funded thanks to the generosity of our supporters. All these projects are actively helping young people who are struggling with mental health challenges across the UK.

This includes a hugely important school navigator role in Essex in conjunction with the Youth Enquiry Service (YES); an assessment tool with Student Minds which will give university students the opportunity to offer honest feedback on where there is room for improvement in mental health and wellbeing at their universities; and a set of crucial transition guides written by the Charlie Waller Trust which aim to help vulnerable students leaving home for the first time navigate support networks.

The support we’ve had as a foundation has been phenomenal and none of these projects would have been possible without our corporate partnerships or Charlie’s Champions.

Please remember that any donation, no matter how small, will go towards actively helping young people who are struggling with mental health challenges.

I often think about what Charlie might be doing now if he was still with us. But I know in my heart that he would be proud of the work we have done; and the work we will continue to do for young people’s mental health.

Thank you so much to everyone that is helping us to achieve our ambition.

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Student Minds

Charity Today: Giving students a voice

The Charlie Watkins Foundation (CWF) has several charity partners which provide crucial support for young people who may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, has been working with CWF to further its shared objective of making a difference in the way universities approach mental health.

Read more on Charity Today

If you’d like to donate to CWF, visit our Ways to Donate page.

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Early intervention in mental health

The importance of early intervention in mental health

The importance of early intervention in mental health is something we focus on in our brand-new podcast with Dr Zoe Burgess. Around one in eight young people aged five to 19 experience a mental health challenge so it is crucial that early intervention is prioritised in young people.

Mental health, much like physical health, will affect nearly everyone at some point in their lives. However, the stigma surrounding mental health means that it is sometimes not spoken about as openly as it should be.

This is especially true in children and young people. As children are growing up there are so many  tress factors  and changes that happen  which can be extremely daunting. This is why it is so important to intervene early to try and manage a healthy approach to promote good mental health before they reach adulthood.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, early interventions and home treatment for mental health challenges can reduce hospital admissions and shorten hospital stays.

 

What can I do?

Establishing an open line of communication is really important.

If you’re a parent who’s worried about their child, being open and honest yourself (while of course being sensitive to how much information you share), can show your child that it’s ok to talk about emotions and feelings.

This doesn’t have to be a sit-down conversation. You could do this through play or ask them to draw a picture about how they’re feeling.

If you remain concerned there is always the option to take your child to a GP; who will be able to help point you in the right direction for local support.

 

What we’re doing

The Charlie Watkins Foundation supports vital projects which give support to young people to help them to have good mental health. In particular, to those who are experiencing change and stressful events in their lives which, if not helped earlier, can result in a number of serious issues that can lead to having poor mental health in the future.

One example is our work with the Youth Enquiry Service (YES) to  fund a school navigator/counsellor role (Keran), who is currently working in ten schools across Essex. Keran has helped more than 104 students in the last four months by being there to provide face-to-face support and a listening ear.

If you’d like to help support projects like these, please consider becoming one of our Champions and raising money for CWF.

If you’re a business, you might want to consider becoming a mutual benefit corporate partnership.

Or if you’d simply like to kindly leave a donation, you can do so via our JustGiving page.

 

We would be so grateful to any support are able to give, thank you.

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