An Aberdeen University professor who is walking from Land’s End to John O’ Groats to raise awareness of the impact of suicide on families stopped off in the Borders last week.
John Gibson is also raising much needed funds for The Canmore Trust, a charity set up in memory of 24-year-old son Cameron, who died in October 2019.
His programme of events during the ‘One Man Walking, One Million Talking’ walk included speaking at a welcome event at Jedburgh Town Hall and a visit to Huntlyburn Ward at the Borders General Hospital.
There John met Tony McLaren, National Director of NHS24 service Breathing Space in the Space to Grow Garden and Philip Grieve (Mental Health Services Manager) to highlight the partnership with NHS24 and the support available through that service.
Pippa Walls, NHS Borders Public Health Lead for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, said: “We are delighted to welcome John to the Borders as we are committed to preventing suicide, reducing the risks and supporting people who lose a loved one to suicide.
“We support ‘United to Prevent Suicide’; a social movement to unite people from across Scotland in a shared belief that everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide.
“ There are many small actions you can take can build hope and help to prevent suicide.
“Our connections to other people and being physically active are both fundamental to protecting our mental health. Joining in with a physical activity such as group walking is a great way of connecting with other people and can give us the hope and the strength to carry on.”
John said: “I plan to walk the length of Great Britain from Land’s End to John O' Groats with the aim of starting a national conversation around suicide as I walk and talk the 1,200 miles across the length of the UK.
“In 2019, my son, Cameron, took his life without warning. I, along with Isobel my wife, and other kids Malcolm and Eilidh, were left reeling and feeling utterly helpless in the aftermath of this devastating event.
“Since then, walking has been a huge part of me finding my feet again. As we move forward as a family it has become clear that we want to shake up the horrific statistics that surround suicide in the UK and for me I know that walking is a huge part of that. “
Walkers are actively encouraged to join John on this journey, indeed, community and companionship is largely what this endeavor is about.
However, the days are long, and potentially challenging, so individuals must be prepared to be fully self sufficient and also understand that the lead walkers have a long-term schedule that must be adhered to if the project is to be achieved. Find out more here.
NHS Borders have a number of resources available if you are struggling. Visit the NHS Borders Wellbeing Hub for information about local suicide prevention work including resources to download.