BLACKBURN with Darwen Council is to host its second annual public vigil outside Blackburn Town Hall to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

Working with the Blackburn with Darwen Suicide Prevention Strategy Group and key local partner organisations, the vigil will help amplify a year-long programme of events, activities, training opportunities and suicide awareness raising in the borough.

This year’s proceedings on Tuesday, September 10 will begin with a multi-faith service at Blackburn Cathedral at 10.55am followed by a procession to the town hall where the vigil will begin from 11.30am.

Guests not attending the cathedral service are invited to begin gathering outside Blackburn Town Hall from 11.15am. The event will close around 12.05pm.

The main part of the vigil will again see a 40 seconds’ silence held at 11.40am to signify the fact that in their ‘eleventh hour’ one person dies of suicide around the world every 40 seconds.

As well as the 40 seconds’ silence, there will be speeches from invited dignitaries and local community groups and charities involved in suicide prevention. A short entertainment production will close out the event.

Pairs of coloured shoes will also be placed at the cathedral and carried over to the town hall to represent the lives sadly lost in Blackburn with Darwen to suicide.

Central to the organisation of the event is Tony Harrison – a tireless local advocate for suicide prevention who lost his only child, Vicky, to suicide in 2010.

Tony is now a trustee for the national charity PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide) which was founded in East Lancashire 21 years ago.

Tony will speak at the cathedral this year on the importance of the event.

The vigil will also be used as a chance to signpost people to support services and explain how people can take action to support people at risk of suicide.

In the UK suicide is the leading cause of death of young people under 35 and the leading cause of death of men under 45.

Suicide prevention has been one of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s key campaigns to support over the past year given the growing awareness of this issue both locally and nationally.

Cllr Damian Talbot, executive member for health and wellbeing, said: "I’m delighted that we are continuing our work with the Blackburn with Darwen Suicide Prevention Strategy Group and other partners on this vitally important subject.

"The response to last year’s vigil was excellent and this year’s promises to be even bigger and better.

"I would encourage everyone to come down and show we are firmly behind suicide prevention in Blackburn with Darwen.

Cllr Zamir Khan, assistant executive member for public health and wellbeing, said:

"The effects of suicide spread far and wide with family, friends and whole communities impacted. "Every story is heart-breaking and we must do what we can to break the silence.

"Collectively – through events like this – we can build momentum and spread the message that there is hope and it is possible to heal."

Tony Harrison said: "I’m delighted that Blackburn with Darwen is leading the way on this and sending a strong message to the rest of the country that our community will bring suicide into the open and tackle, what is still the darkest of taboos, head-on.

"Making our borough a stigma free zone is vital to suicide prevention and the whole local community can play a part in helping to achieve this by coming along and showing their support."