Mike McCarthy and Steve Phillip made contact following the deaths of their sons, Ross and Jordan, to suicide. Steve said: “We were brought together through tragic circumstances – two fathers sharing common grief. Each wanting to make a difference, and determined that the death of our sons should not be in vain. Through our friendship, we recognised that by creating unity of purpose we could shake things up and create a movement that we hope will stop so many people taking their own lives.”
Together Mike and Steve became persuasive advocates for change in UK suicide prevention policy; they were invited to meet the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to share their knowledge and lived experience. In a keynote speech at the headquarters of the suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS in June 2022, Mr Javid talked about the importance of providing better and more targeted support to men and women who are dying by suicide:
‘September 2022 marks a decade since the publication of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England, which contained a series of actions and commitments to save lives. Across the sector, progress has been made in the last decade. However, society has also changed in significant ways – bringing new challenges, drivers and risks that we need to tackle. We believe now is the time for us to develop a new and ambitious long-term plan for suicide prevention.’
As well as briefing him on the vital actions needed from across Government – especially, but not just, the Department for Health and Social Care – Mike and Steve were also able to secure Mr Javid’s endorsement and support for their Baton of Hope campaign which was announced on BBC Breakfast the following day.