Musketts Way bridge Notes of Hope - Suicide Prevention Project
Notes of hope were attached to a bridge where people have ended their lives - Worcestershire County Council tore them down three days later flagged as a "distraction to motorists"
I aim to prove that this project has been proven to save lives in other areas of the country with no council backlash. People helping people is important. The smallest things can make the biggest difference!
I started the #muskettswaybridgehope project which the aim to attach "notes of hope" to a bridge in Redditch where people have ended their lives.
This particular bridge has been campaigned over for years for safety measures to be made to the structure of the bridge, including by a former mayor but nothing has ever been done about it.
This project wouldn't cost the council a penny and also is very personal, each note written from the heart of someone who has felt suicidal or has dealt with mental illness to the heart of someone who may be feeling similar. This has been proven to work in other areas of the country, in one area alone having saved eight lives in a short period. All have had support from their local are yet the council for this bridge ripped them down within three days.
I handwrote 150 notes and two other ladies and their children made extra notes too, we met up and attached them all to the bridge, hopeful that they may help if only one person and were proud we had taken our own little action of potentiallu helping someone in their darkest hour when the council themselves have not actioned any change themselves.
The council removed the notes flagged as a "distraction to motorists" This photo is a zoomed in photo of the bridge with the notes attached from the road.......
England flags were hung on this bridge without any issue. Roadside advertisements remain within the area but the notes of hope were removed without warning or contact.
It's fair to say that I was extremely upset and absolutely fuming all at the same time.
What followed was an extremely crazy week! I did numerous media interviews, including live radio for which I had nervous pins and needles in my hand for 15 minutes after and ITV Central News. It was all worth it as I wanted to raise awareness. I wanted people to be aware that this is the only council in the country that has had an issue with a project of this sort and I wanted to start a petition which you can find here.
It was anon stop week, that threw me out of my own comfort zone. There was talks with various councillors and the MP, Some more helpful than others. Some backing it some not. The amount of support from people who have actually personally dealt with mental health issues and that specific bridge itself has been overwhelming and that's what is important, because these are the people that matter! These are the people that could potentially be helped by the notes.
Ironically midway through organising this project I went through a depressive episode of my own. I struggled in parts to continue with it and really struggled to get through some days but actually carrying on and pushing through helped me. Feeling how I did gave me more passion to help others feeling the same way to show that we can get through these times, that sometimes it's about getting through the day, not necessarily having a "good day" and so all 150 of my notes were truly from the heart of someone that understands to the heart of someone else struggling so it was hard when they got taken down in the manner in which they did. It also hurt when there was some internet trolls and keyboard warriors saying that I was doing it for personal gratification when it was compared to another project of a similar nature that was in the media recently where by the amazing young girl that did a bridge local to her was commended by her local police and received an award. Any one that knows me knows that this isn't the case. I am simply passionate about mental health, awareness and helping others because of my own personal experiences and that's all there is too it and having my own mental health issues that hurt and caused me a a lot of personal stress but in the end I had to except people have their opinions and they are entitled to them as long as i know the true motivations behind this that is all that matters and I am always true to my heart.
Nothing gets my goat more in this world that people casting assumptions and opinions on saying something will not work when they have no proof not any personal experience, especially when there is actual proof that it HAS saved lives elsewhere.
I wanted to do this as it fit in well with my "Happy Post" project which are in theory notes of hope in the post. i have had much positive feedback from people who have been in a bad place tell me how much these have helped them. If happy post can have a positive impact on people there is no reason when the notes would not.
Not to bore you all with the ins and outs of the details but there is a lot of talk about guidelines and one things and another, i've read these guidelines and I have counter arguments for all of it. The problem is these notes are a new "grey area" There is no specific place for them within any guidelines. If I have to campaign for a new guideline I will.
We live in a world, not a box. I am fed up with boxes and ticks that have to be out in to place by various parts of government organisations including the DWP whereby we are thought of as numbers and statistics. That we should all fit in to these little boxes nice and neatly and so should everything else or it is immediately rejected,
The world is round not square. Life and people do not fit in to nice neat little boxes, we don't all colour inside the lines and mental health certainly doesn't. What helps one person will not help another. The point is to try and make a difference. Especially when it is not being done elsewhere by the very people that should be.
I am not naive enough to think this could help everyone but helping one person is better than no people.
There have been some concerns about "advertising place of suicide". In the guidelines it states that there is NO proof of this. That is possible but there is NO proof.
My argument is anything is possible. It is possible that a TV show, soap, let's not forget things like netflix 13 reasons why could all POSSIBLY have this same possibility. In that case you could also say that suicide awareness campaigns could POSSIBLY have the same effect...even those of charities. You could argue it every which way but the point is that there is no evidence. What there IS evidence of is that similar projects have saved lives. There is proof that structual adjustments on bridges can be effective - but the council have not done this. It also states in the guidelines that "Soft Measures" should be implemented, meaning encouragement of human interaction and intervention and for the person feeling suicidal to reach out, That's what these notes are! All notes had the samaritans number on also. So the Council have not only ignored the "Hard measures" pleas from the public, but they have torn down the "soft measures" without even giving them a chance.
The point is that kindness goes a LONG way. people helping people. Empathy and compassion and words from people who HAVE been in a similar situation helps people! I believe heartfelt messages that someone can relate to would have more of an impact that helpline numbers on their own.
I know from personal experience of feeling suicidal that the smallest thing at that moment when you have all your plans in place can click for that small moment your brain out of that tunnel visioned view that you are in. Especially if it is something that you were not expecting, For someone that could have been these notes.
Safe to say I will not be letting this go. I believe the world evolves and so do things that can help others and they shouldn't just be dismissed. If everything stayed the same nothing would change. Sometimes things have to change. And the smallest changes can sometimes have a big impact. You just don't know until you try and there has to be open mindedness when it comes to mental health. Suicide and mental health live in stigma and silence. That's the whole problem.
Please Please sign and share my petition for this project HERE.
I will post updates when I have them, thank you to all that have supported me and this project, you're all wonderful :)