An emotional campaign to make suicide awareness a compulsory part of the school curriculum stepped up a gear this week after three grieving dads were awarded a Pride of Britain Award.

Andy Airey, 61 from Cumbria, Tim Owen, 52, from Norfolk, and Mike Palmer, 58, from Sale, were given the honour on Monday following a 600 mile walk through all four nations of the UK which raised over £880,000 for suicide prevention charity, Papyrus.

The 3 Dads Walking, who all lost their daughters to suicide, received a special recognition award.

Along with raising money and awareness, the trio have been calling on the government to make suicide prevention a compulsory part of the school curriculum in an attempt to prevent other families experiencing the same pain.

in an interview with The Drop, Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, said: “200 school children take their own lives each year.

“We don’t want to shock or frighten young people but they should know it does happen. Then they can begin to recognise that if it’s your friend who is feeling low then that arm around the shoulder or conversation can make a huge difference.

“The younger we start having these conversations the sooner we can lift the cloud that hangs over mental health.”

Their petition has now reached £142,000 signatures.

Mr Airey told The Drop: “We need to start talking about help seeking behaviour, so we can train our young people to seek help in times of difficulty.”

Credit: 3 Dads Walking

Suicide is the main cause of death of people under 35 in the UK.

But this week, the Department for Education (DfE) responded by saying they were only going to review current guidance.

In a statement the DfE said: “All pupils in schools are taught about mental health as part of the Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, which we made mandatory in 2020.

“This includes learning about the common types of mental illness, such as anxiety and depression, understanding that experiencing poor mental health is not uncommon and knowing where and how to seek support for themselves or someone else.

“The RSHE statutory guidance advises that schools should approach teaching about self-harm and suicide carefully and should be aware of the risks to pupils from exposure to materials that are instructive rather than preventative, including websites or videos that provide instructions or methods of self-harm or suicide.”

The response comes despite date showing that referrals to childline for suicide increased from 283 in 2009-2010 to 3,518 in 2018-2019. 

The DfE said: “We are committed to review the RSHE statutory guidance, which we plan to start in 2023.

“We expect to complete the review process and publish the updated guidance in 2024.”

The 3 Dads said on Twitter: “It’s simply not good enough.”

Despite the disappointing outcome, the trio are still fighting for change.

Mr Airey said: “The key message is that there is help out there. 

“Anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts needs to know that support and help is there, but they need to reach out.”

What do you think – would you want to see suicide awareness be taught in your school, or is it too much of an upsetting topic?

The Papyrus helpline can be contacted by calling 0800 068 41 41, texting 07860 039 967 or email Open 9am-midnight 365 days a year.

The Samaritans helpline is also open 24/7 on 116 123.