As we entered a new Premier League Season, football fans across the country joined up once again to raise awareness, walk, talk and try to combat suicide using football as a tool to bring people of all ages, genders, backgrounds and clubs together.
All participants of the Walk And Talk events are committed to the same goal; raising awareness of Mental Health and Suicide.
Figures released for 2018 heartbreakingly show the need to raise awareness and bring people together is needed now more than ever before.
An increase in previous years on the number of suicides across the UK, horrifically saw 6,507 males and females take their own lives through being unable to cope with this terrible illness.
4,903 (75%) of those reported suicides were male and 1,604 (25%) were female. To break this down further, this reads as; 17.8 suicides per day in total of which 13.4 are male. That is more than 1 male life taken every 2 hours through suicide.
Mental health impacts 1 in 4 people directly across the country and the knock-on, rippling effect of that also has a huge impact on friends and family members of suffers. This in turn can lead to tough and challenging environments in the family home, at work and in social situations.
These statistics are awful to read and must be addressed by society as a whole as it is “our” problem that can impact anybody at any time.
Individually, and as a whole, we need to take more responsibility and face up to these statistics and issues as this is not something that will just go away. This can be simple acts such as being more aware of your surroundings and those around you, being kinder to people, checking in on friends, family and even strangers, by actually talking or by undertaking initiatives to try and push the agenda, as we are doing within the football community.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. Through daily life stresses and pressure, and the ‘expectation’ of society, men typically bottle things up and feel as though they do not have a platform or the space to open up and talk about how they are feeling and coping.
Talking is the most powerful tool available and the starting point to recovery for anybody that is struggling to cope, which alone can help to improve and potentially save lives.
The profile of football fans is perfect as a high proportion of supporters that attend, watch and are generally interested are men under the age of 45.
Using football to spread this message is huge as it reaches every corner of the world and therefore billions of people; many of who will suffer/have suffered with mental health issues, may have contemplated suicide themselves or will know somebody that has taken their own life.
The sad reality is that many suicides could be avoided if people found the bravery to talk to others and find support from friends, family, charities and even strangers.
These Walk And Talk events are about recognition of the issues and uniting football fans as one to come together to try and make a difference. Not only do the Walk And Talk events raise awareness of these issues, but they also create environments for people of all ages, backgrounds and genders to connect with others, talk about how they are feeling and demonstrate that it is okay to open up if you are in a bad place and are in need of some support.
Undertaking the event on a match day helps to bring together a higher number of people, uniting opposing fans and sending out a very powerful message in a world where football fans can be too easily stereo-typed in negative ways.
Within the past year, Palace fans have joined forces with opposition fans on three occasions to try and raise awareness and do our bit to change the perception on Mental Health. The football community at Palace and at many other clubs are committed to changing the stigma and to try to turn the tide on this awful issue.
Last season in February, Palace and Fulham fans united and walked together from Craven Cottage to Selhurst Park. The event had a turnout of around 70 fans. In April, Palace and Arsenal fans did the exact same thing as 135+ people embarked on the 12-mile trip through London up to The Emirates. This was a truly positive, inspiring and amazing day.
What is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling on the walks are the friendships that have grown from people coming together, walking and talking. The walks are not just male centric, as a high number of female fans take part, sharing their struggles and supporting the overall cause.
The walks are designed to be all inclusive, any age, ability and gender is welcome; we are united in ending the stigma against Mental Health.
There are stops along the way of most walks to give walkers the opportunity to refresh themselves, talk, meet others and grab a drink. Stops are also designed so they are close to train/tube stations where people can join us on route if they wish.
Through the power of social media, fan podcasts and spreading the message through word of mouth, each event has been very visible and has definitely made an impact of which we now hope to grow and evolve further as we go into the 2019/20 season and beyond.
Determined as ever, picking up where we left off last season, Palace fans joined forces with Dulwich fans for an Under 23 pre-season game which brought 60+ people together for the shorter, 5-mile trip over to Champion Hill. Despite being shorter, this walk still carried the same powerful messages that it is okay to talk and you are not alone.
We kick started the 2019/20 season again, repeating the success of last season’s Arsenal Walk And Talk with another trip up to the Emirates that took place on Sunday 27th October. For this walk, over 180 fans joined us in raising awareness and we were also partnered with Samaritans and their Real People, Real Stories campaign.
Picking up from where we left off on Sunday 27th October, we now have another Walk And Talk event planned from London Victoria to Stamford Bridge on Saturday 9th November.
This walk is shorter than previous, just 4.2 miles to be precise, and will have a huge focus on the Samaritans Real People, Real Stories campaign, railways and suicide prevention on the railway.
We are going to be joined on the morning of the walk by speakers and representatives from the Samaritans, British Transport Police and number of rail companies (Southern, South Eastern and Gatwick Express).
Please see below an image that details all the information for this latest event so if you would like to get involved or would like any more information, please contact @Beulah12 (Beulah Pickles) or @HC15OnTour (Paul Price).
The embedded tweet from ITN London news below shows the walk from Craven Cottage to Selhurst Park and gives a view of the initiative, what we are trying to achieve along with footage of the event.
If you need help, or want to talk to someone in confidence, contact: –
- CALM on (Nationwide) 0800 58 58 58, (London) 0808 802 58 58, or visit their website
- NHS 111
- Samaritans 116 123
We hope to see fans from all clubs coming together to make a difference in this space and at this or further Walk And Talk events. Make sure you check out the #WalkAndTalk hashtag across social media.