Giving hope to people on World Suicide Prevention Day

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 8th September, 2022

Letter of Hope logoTo mark World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September 2022, a group of people in Devon with lived experience have updated their Letter of Hope, which aims to give hope to people contemplating suicide. 

40,000 copies of the original Devon Letter of Hope have been printed since it was first written several years ago. It has been circulated far and wide and copied by many organisations around the country that are involved in supporting people who may be contemplating suicide and their loved ones and friends.

Commenting on the importance of the letter, a member of the Letter of Hope Group said: “Everyone involved in writing the letter has been touched by suicide in one way or another.  Thankfully, we have all survived but we all feel passionately about sharing our experience with others who may be going through a painful and distressing time. In particular, we want to share the importance of holding on to hope when we are at our lowest ebb, and for those around us to hold on to that hope, too.

“The notion of writing a letter to someone we do not know seems very simple, but feedback from many sources has told us that it has been both powerful and helpful. If the Letter of Hope helps just one person then it has been worthwhile.

“We have made some small changes to the original letter and have produced an updated version to coincide with this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day.  As well as the handy z-card version (which folds down to credit card size) there are other accessible formats including a shorter plain text version and an audio version.  We are also working with a group of young people to draft a letter aimed at a younger audience.  We will be distributing the letter all over the county – to anywhere that it may help save a life.

“The letter seems particularly important at this point in time, when most of us have so many things weighing heavily on our minds.  Thankfully, mental health and wellbeing are far more openly talked about than they were many years ago, but we should not lose sight of the fact that around 120 people still die from suicide in Devon every year – which is far too high a number.  Recent research also ranks Devon as continuing to have one of the highest suicide rates in the country.  We also know that relatively few people who take their life have had contact with mental health services, so it is up to all of us to remain vigilant and to provide help wherever we can.”

Hilda Kalap, Managing Director of Recovery Devon, added: “It touches my heart to know that the Letter of Hope has saved lives and continues to do so. It is a clear symbol for the theme of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day - Creating Hope through Action. Everyone at Recovery Devon has lived experience of mental health issues. We have all been at that lowest point when suicide seemed like the only option. We care so much about anyone who is at that point now.  Some words I share from the Letter of Hope:
‘It is okay to feel the way you do. You are not weak, selfish, or crazy. You are not beyond help. Please believe in yourself, in what tomorrow might bring.’”

The Letter of Hope project is supported by Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which provides mental health, learning disability and neurodiversity services across the county (except Plymouth).

Recovery Devon is a community interest company that, for 20 years, has created opportunities for recovery throughout communities in Devon, led by lived experience of mental health challenges.

You can see the Letter of Hope in various formats here.