A young Bexhill woman is taking on a year of tough physical challenges to raise awareness of male suicide.
Hannah Richards will start by running the Brighton Marathon this weekend, before taking on Tough Mudder Full – a gruelling 10-mile, 25-obstacle course – on May 4. The 24-year-old will then take part in the 311-mile London to Paris Bike Ride, from July 24 to July 28, before finishing the year with the 24 Peak Challenge, which will see her climb 24 peaks in the Lake District over two days.
As well as raising awareness of male suicide, Hannah is also raising funds for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), after losing her brother to suicide, on his 20th birthday, in August 2017.
On her fundraising page, Hannah wrote: “Sam was the most loving, kind and funny person I knew – he was my best friend and I miss him every day. I’m helping to raise awareness so that men can speak out and get support when they need it most and prevent families going through the unimaginable loss we did.
“In the UK, the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide. Additionally, of the 6,000+ British lives lost to suicide each year, nearly 75 per cent of those are male.
“That is 84 men each week, that is 84 sets of friends and family left to make sense of what has happened. Suicide carries in its aftermath a level of confusion and devastation that is beyond words.
“Suicide rates continue to climb and so it is vital that the conversation starts now, we simply cannot make ‘suicide’ a taboo word anymore.
“Today, men feel they cannot talk about their emotions, that they must ‘man-up’. Young boys need to be brought up knowing that it’s okay for them not to be okay. I always thought that if someone felt suicidal there would be some clues in their behaviour, but I know now that these feelings can be completely invisible to others. It is therefore so important to talk, ask and listen, as suicidal thoughts don’t always have a face or mood.”
Last year, Hannah won the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain ITV Meridian Fundraiser of the Year award, for raising thousands of pounds for CALM and You Raise Me Up, by completing the Brighton Marathon and Tough Mudder, and skydiving with her mum Julie and dad Anthony.
Julie and Anthony will be joining Hannah for the 24 Peak Challenge in September this year, alongside Bethany Dickens and Carly Stephens.
Anthony will also be joining his daughter for the London to Paris Bike Ride, as will Matthew Stephens and Joe Pettigrew.
Bethany Dickens, Rosie Akerman, Joe Slaughter, Debbie Willis, Phoebe Barker, Mark Coward, Will Mackenzie and Martin Hodgson will be keeping Hannah company for her Tough Mudder challenge.
For details and to donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hannahrichardscalm.