Special tribute at this year’s World Suicide Awareness Day to campaigner who is now “walking with his angel”

Published Friday 3 September 2021 at 12:24

A 40 second silence will pay tribute to suicide awareness campaigner Tony Harrison, who lost his life to lung cancer earlier this year.

Tony, from Darwen, has been campaigning to raise awareness of suicide and to tackle the stigma and myths that surround it since his daughter Vicky took her own life in 2010, aged just 21.

Tony was a trustee of PAPYRUS, the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, and co-founder of Care Network. He also sat as a member of the Blackburn with Darwen Suicide Prevention Strategy Group.

To mark World Suicide Awareness Day on Friday 10 September, vigils will be held in both Blackburn and Darwen town centres. A tribute will be given to Tony, as well as a 40 second’s silence.

This year’s proceedings will begin at 10am with a multi-faith vigil outside Blackburn Town Hall featuring speeches and the lighting of a candle. At 10.30am a candle lit procession will invite people to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’ around the town centre.

Representatives will carry the candle to Darwen where a vigil will take place in Darwen Town Hall Square at 12.30pm, followed by the walk at 1pm.

The concept of the 40 second silence was developed by Tony in 2018.

Speaking at the time Tony said:

Most periods of silence last one or two minutes. This seemed a perfect opportunity to not only remember all those lost to suicide, but to highlight the horrifying statistic that every 40 seconds someone, somewhere around the world dies by suicide.

For the past five years Tony has staged an annual Walk With An Angel event, through Blackburn, to raise awareness of suicide prevention in memory of his daughter.

Close friend Nathan Haworth, who was Vicky’s fiancé, said:

After Vicky passed away, Tony became a father figure, and I became like a son to him. Tony never judged, he just listened.

A part of Tony died the day that Vicky did. He lived his life with the time he had left, longing for the day they would reunite – but until that time came, he focused fully on song writing and the prevention and awareness of suicide.

Nathan said he plans to continue the annual Walk With An Angel event, but said the best way to honour Tony is to remove the stigma around talking about suicide.

He said:

The hole that was created by Vicky’s death became filled with his work to raise awareness of suicide and opening channels to talk about it. I think Vicky would be proud of him, and I take comfort knowing that that they’re together now.

Tony is also survived by sisters Jean Dunston and Anne Hocking. Jean added:

He was heartbroken when Vicky died. He really did campaign for the cause until his last breath, but now he is walking with his angel.

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