Charity displays hundreds of shoes to raise awareness of child suicide

Sabrina Barr

A charity has displayed hundreds of children's shoes on the steps of an events hall to raise awareness of the prevalence of child suicide in the UK.

Chasing the Stigma is a Liverpool-based charity with a primary aim of destigmatising mental illness.

The organisation has collaborated with local radio station Radio City Talk to create a chilling installation highlighting the number of young lives lost to suicide very year.

Working alongside other mental health charities including Papyrus and the Oscar Phillips Foundation, Chasing the Stigma organised for 226 pairs of shoes to be placed on the steps of St George's Hall in the centre of Liverpool.

Each pair of shoes represents one of the young lives that was lost to suicide in 2017.

The charity's campaign coincides with Children's Mental Health Week, which is taking place from 4 February until 10 February this year.

"The statistics are utterly heart breaking but for many people, they either aren't aware of the numbers or the reality of the figures doesn't hit home," says Jake Mills, founder of Chasing the Stigma.

"Behind every statistic is a life needlessly and tragically lost.

"We wanted to get that across and so decided to use shoes as a visual representation of those lives."

226 shoes were displayed to represent the number of young people who took their own lives in 2017 (Chasing the Stigma)

All of the shoes used in the display were donated to the charity.

Numerous people have commended the organisation for creating the powerful campaign.

"Truly horrendous when shown so starkly," one person wrote on Facebook.

"This gave me goosebumps. So sad that any child should feel this way," another person added.

Chasing the Stigma was inspired to create the campaign following previous collaborations between the charity and Radio City Talk.

"We have been working closely with Radio City Talk and presenter Mick Coyle for a number of years, around the station's 'Mental Health Monday' programme," Mills says.

"Following last year's award winning 24-hour live radio broadcast dedicated to mental health, we wanted to take that conversation out to the public.

"With the show's 100th episode falling at the beginning of Children's Mental Health Week, it made sense to address the devastating numbers of suicides in young people."

Mills hopes the charity can put on the display in other parts of the country in the near future.

The organisation has also created a website and app called Hub of Hope, which allows people to source mental health support once they've entered their location.

In March 2018, ITV unveiled sculptures on top of the TV network's London's buildings to raise awareness of male suicide.

If you're in need of mental health support, you can contact Mind by calling 0300 123 3393. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, from 9am until 6pm.

You can also contact suicide prevention charity Samaritans by calling 116 123. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is free to call.