Suicide is not a joke. That was the message from mental health charities and the mother of a teenager who killed himself after crowds were heard urging a young woman to jump from a multi-storey car park in Blackpool.
Just a week after a man in his 30s died when he leapt from the Houndshill Shopping Centre, people were seen filming the unnamed 21-year-old as she sat with her feet dangling from the West Street Car Park.
Joanne Doherty, whose son James took his own life last summer at the age of just 16, said: “I think it’s bullying. It’s tormenting and what right do people have to do that?
“It’s an incitement to suicide and the law should be changed. In this day and age, people should be done for it.!
Sections of Corporation Street and Church Street were cordoned off by officers after they were called to the town centre at around 4.45pm on Sunday.
Paramedics were also on stand-by, and took the woman, who has not been named, to Royal Blackburn Hospital for an assessment after she came down from the rooftop and was detained under the Mental Health Act.
Last year, a mum – speaking only on the condition of anonymity – said she had ‘seen the worst of humanity’ after onlookers told her daughter to jump from Wilko’s car park in Dickson Road.
She told The Gazette yesterday her daughter – who was not involved in the latest incident – is ‘in a much better place now’, and described those who stood jeering as ‘awful’.
She added: “Just over a week ago somebody did jump and take their life, and there were people helping out and giving CPR.
“But still people are shouting jump, knowing there is a real danger of them doing it. Unfortunately, it does not surprise me.”
Jo Loughran from Time to Change, a charity aimed at tackling the stigma surrounding mental health, said: “Suicide is not a joke. Every year around 6,000 people tragically lose their lives [through suicide].
“That’s thousands of friends, family members and colleagues. We know that joking about, or trivialising mental health problems stops people getting the help and support they need.
“Everyone’s attitude makes a difference and it’s vital those experiencing suicidal thoughts feel able to speak out and seek support without fear of being judged.”
Joe Redmond, managing director of the Richmond Fellowship (North), which has a base in Bispham, added: “We’re shocked to hear of the behaviour of some members of the public toward somebody experiencing a severe mental health crisis.
“This highlights the hurdles we continue to face to inform people of the realities of mental health and to tackle negative stigma.”
And Karen Arrowsmith, courses and training lead at Lancashire Mind, said: “We need to change our culture and our attitude towards mental health to be more supportive. The people who are watching, if something did happen, are putting their own mental wellbeing at risk.”
Readers affected by this article, or feeling suicidal, can call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123.