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.
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.