Reds in the Community hosted a suicide awareness tournament at the Oakwell indoor centre last night.
The five-a-side tournament, which took place on world suicide prevention day, was organised by the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust alongside charity MIND.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for people in the UK aged 20-34 and also is the biggest cause of death for males below the age of 50.
It is a topic which has touched the hearts of everyone surrounding Barnsley Football Club following the passing of supporter Liam Jones.
Liam, a passionate and loyal Reds fan, sadly took his own life at the age of just 24 earlier this year.
The Liam Jones Legacy, a suicide awareness and support group founded in his memory, were in attendance at last night’s tournament, with the Samaritans also providing information and support.
Over 80 players took part in the tournament, raising vital funds for the SWYPT, MIND and the Liam Jones Legacy.
Cllr Steve Green, Mayor of Barnsley, opened the evening’s proceedings and enjoyed being part of such an important and successful occasion.
He said: “I wasn’t aware of the number of people who commit suicide until I came here. There’s so many men who have suicidal thoughts. It is absolutely vital that we get the message out. The amount of people who’ve turned up and the organisation involved has been fantastic.
“We need to talk. There are people who are there purposely for that reason. If you have issues, talk about it. It is a bit of a taboo, especially with males. This needs to definitely be an annual thing where people are made aware of it. I’m really taken aback by the amount of people who’ve turned out.”
Paula Rylatt, suicide prevention lead with the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, spoke about the importance of raising awareness.
She said: “It’s fantastic to be here. It’s brilliant to see so many teams. We need to talk about suicide everyday. You see a lot of the mantras around like ‘it’s good to talk’ and ‘it’s okay to talk’ and its great to have an event like this where you can bring that home and make people aware of it. Men are the biggest target group who are at risk as well as any people under the age of 35. With football, you’re using something that people are happy to engage with to reach out to their level.
“It’s brilliant that the football club are involved because it’s making it a real community engagement. We’re making a lot of progress. There’s lots of focus on training, awareness and helping people with bereavement through suicide. It’s so important to get the word out that it is good to talk.”
Barnsley FC have also collaborated with a number of local groups to create the #AlrightPal? campaign, demonstrating the huge impact simply asking if someone is ‘alright’ can have in preventing suicide.
For more information on the campaign, please click HERE.