Swim around island for suicide prevention

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 7th May 2022 2:00 pm
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Two men are swimming around the island in support of a number of Manx charities dealing with suicide prevention and bereavement.

David Higson and Marc ‘Paddy’ Purcell have taken on the challenge of swimming around the entirety of the Isle of Man in stages.

The pair started on Tuesday at Laxey and swam around to Groudle.

Mr Higson, from Colby, said: ‘I think we’ll be trying to get out once a week at least, weather dependent, and do a section every week if we can.

‘We both love wild swimming and we’ve been swimming together for about two and a half to three years. It was Paddy’s idea to swim around the island but I said to him would you mind if we do it to raise awareness of suicide and mental health.

‘We’ve been training a lot in the pool but Paddy’s got 20 years on me so it’s a job to keep up!’

He said the first swim ‘went really well’ and he looks forward to continuing next week.

‘It will be a real challenge,’ he added.

‘I had Covid at the beginning of April so I’ve not really gotten back into the lengths I was doing before Covid, but hopefully as the challenge goes on I’ll get stronger. I’m looking forward to it, we’re both buzzing after the first swim.’

They are raising money for Cruse Bereavement Care Isle of Man, Manx therapy charity New View Therapeutic community, and the UK’s Stamp Out Suicide.

They would also like to promote sea swimming as a positive reacreation for wellbeing and good mental health.

Mr Higson explained why they had chosen these.

The 55-year-old said: ‘I lost my son Martin to suicide in 2018 so ever since then I’ve been trying to help people who suffer from bereavement and suicide and run a group here. It’s more about raising awareness.

‘I have a support group called Bereaved Survivors of Suicide Isle of Man [on social media] which I set up after realising there was little support in the island for the bereaved and I get members that tell me suicide is still going on and every time I hear about one it makes me despair that it’s still happening and it’s not been addressed yet.

‘We’re not winning the fight against it and people are still choosing it as a way out.

‘I want this place to be a zero suicide island. It’s a dreadful thing, especially for the people left behind.’

Both aim to finish around the end of October as the temperatures in the water will drop considerably after that.

‘We didn’t really put a time limit on it as we didn’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves with the weather and tides which can unavoidably put stuff off,’ he said.

Mr Higson added: ‘The response so far has been crazy.’

You can donate on Mr Higson’s JustGiving page, which has raised £2,200 so far, and follow the pair’s journey on their Facebook group ‘Swim Against Suicide Isle of Man’.

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