Why I’m running for Darcy

By Phil Stoneham   |   Reporter   |
Sunday 15th May 2022 6:20 am
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Darcy Hollinson
Darcy Hollinson (Hollinson family )

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TODAY a group of folk wearing scraps of purple will be running, walking or merely ambling around the Meadows in Tavistock supporting a mental health charity. In more than four decades of reporting events like this, I believe it will be the most important I have ever covered.

The reason for this activity is the tragic death of a 17-year-old girl, Darcy Hollinson, who took her own life a little over a year ago. Her mum, Debbie, is running 10k in Canada at the same time with an old friend who now lives there and who supported Debbie and her shattered family following Darcy’s death. Her aim is to raise awareness of mental health problems in young people.

Debbie also wants to raise £10,000 for Papyrus, a charity dedicated to preventing suicide in young people. While Debbie is in Canada, Tavistock businesswoman Dotty King has organised a similar event in the Meadows which will start at the same moment, although with a time-lag of five hours.

Dotty an experienced NSPCC volunteer, who has moved mountains to get this event on, read Darcy’s story and felt she could not stand by and do nothing. Neither can I. Darcy was suffering from mental anguish before she died. That kind of anguish is easy to hide and I know that for a fact because it happened to me.

It is difficult to talk about depression with somebody who has not experienced it, other than to describe it as a black hole of self-loathing, no hope, no feeling of self-worth and like standing on a cliff edge wondering if you should take the last few steps over it to end the hurt.

I got lucky, because I found a team of mental health experts, or they found me, who got me through it. There are thousands of people out there who aren’t so lucky and increasingly, those people are our kids.

The covid pandemic, with its isolation of people imposed by lockdowns, has worsened an already deteriorating situation. The Mental Health Foundation released figures which reveal as of last year, one in six children suffer some sort of mental health problem. That means five kids from a class of 30 at your local primary school either already have mental health issues or are developing them and that will affect the rest of their lives. Worse, says the foundation, 75 per cent of them won’t get the help they need. I believe we are in danger of losing an entire generation to mental health issues until action is taken to try and resolve them now. That’s where charities like Papyrus, who have identified suicide as the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK, come in. They offer help and advice to young people who are in danger of taking those last few steps towards the cliff edge.

So, for future generations, please be there on Sunday from 2.30pm to 4pm and wear something purple. It was Darcy’s favourite colour and is also the colour adopted by Papyrus. It is a 10k course, but you don’t have to do that. A circuit will do, maybe walking the dog or pushing a pram. There will be collection boxes around if you feel like donating to Debbie’s target or you can do so online at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/debbie-hollinson

Papyrus can be contacted at papyrus-uk.org.

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