Marie Greenhalgh tells us about the magnificent work around suicide awareness and prevention

Attending the Baton of Hope: A Transformative Experience in Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the first national conference hosted by the Baton of Hope, dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness. This groundbreaking event brought together leading experts, passionate campaigners, and inspiring individuals who are making significant strides in mental health advocacy. The conference was a profound opportunity to learn, network, and gather vital resources that will enhance my ability to support staff, and to support students struggling with suicidal thoughts.

The conference featured an impressive lineup of speakers, each bringing unique insights and expertise to the table. Professor Rory O’Connor, Dr. Nihara Krause MBE, and Agnes Munday, all renowned experts in suicide prevention, shared their latest research and strategies for addressing the complex issue of suicide. Their presentations provided invaluable knowledge on the transition from suicidal thoughts to action and highlighted protective measures that can be implemented to prevent such tragedies.

Notable mental health campaigners such as Alastair Campbell, Steve Phillip, Nick Wilson, and Tanya Marwaha delivered powerful talks that underscored the importance of mental health awareness. Organisations like Shawmind and the Association of Online Gamers also participated, emphasising the role of community and digital spaces in supporting mental well-being. Mike McCarthy, a key figure behind Baton of Hope, shared his personal journey and the mission driving this vital initiative.

One of the most moving parts of the conference was hearing from individuals who have faced immense personal challenges. Mike Palmer, one of the “3 Dads,” and Emma Webb, accompanied by her horse Miles, spoke candidly about their experiences with loss and the steps they are taking to foster hope and resilience. Their stories were a poignant reminder of the human impact behind the statistics and the importance of compassionate support.

Adventurers Chris Moon MBE and Sally Orange MBE also took the stage, sharing their extraordinary journeys and the lessons they have learned in overcoming life’s toughest obstacles. Their experiences highlighted the strength of the human spirit and the critical role of mental resilience in navigating adversity.

Beyond the insightful presentations, the conference provided the opportunity for networking and building connections with like-minded professionals. Engaging with other attendees allowed me to exchange ideas, discuss best practices, and form valuable partnerships that will enhance our collective efforts in suicide prevention.

I also gathered extensive signposting information and resources that will be instrumental in supporting young people at risk. These tools will empower staff to provide timely and effective assistance, ensuring that students receive the help they need when facing mental health challenges.

Attending the Baton of Hope conference deepened my understanding of suicide prevention and reinforced the importance of ongoing education and advocacy. As we continue to navigate the complexities of mental health, the knowledge and connections gained from this event will be crucial in our efforts to support and protect vulnerable individuals.

If you would like to know more about Inclusion Education’s suicide prevention programme, Project Iris – Growing Hope, then please email the team at