Two friends have taken a stance of solidarity for those who have taken their own life by staying sober for a month to raise funds for two charities which support mental health.
Aylif Wilkinson and Gaz Wilson, 32, of Chorley, did Sober October and raised more than £1,300 to be split between Chorley Women’s Centre and Lancashire Mind.
The pair wanted to do something after losing two friends - and a third on the last day of their challenge - to suicide.
Aylif, 26, who works at Katy’s Kitchen, Chorley, said: “It has been a very difficult few months for us and for Chorley as a town, as five or six people have taken their own lives in five months.
“We had lost two of our friends - one of which was our best friend.
“Alongside this, two other people - who we didn’t know - had taken their own lives and so it has been very difficult for Chorley as a town. We don’t know what is going on, but something needs to be done.
“I have suffered depression myself and I turned to drink to block it out.
“After our close friend died, I went to Chorley Women’s Centre and volunteers there really helped me. Gaz and I began fund-raising for Lancashire Mind after our close friend died and after that, we wanted to do more to support these charities so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“Sadly, one of our other friends took their own life on the last day of our challenge. We felt like we had done it all for nothing, but now we see we have not.
“We have raised around £1,300 and if we can help one person who feels like the only way out is suicide, it is worth it.
“The generosity of the town has been amazing. It feels so worthwhile knowing we have raised so much.
“It has been difficult not drinking, especially as our friends go to the pub, but the reason we have been doing it has made it easier.
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“I’d like to say to people who are thinking about taking their own lives, that the real victims are the people left behind: the people that are left to pick up the pieces; the people that are left to live their lives wondering why and what if.
“For anyone thinking that it’s the only way out and their pain will be over, it’s not, it just gets passed on, so stay and fight another day for the people you love.
“We want to show that there is another way out. You can have a bad day and a bad life, but people love you, so stick around and speak to someone. Seek help - there are charities out there and that is what they are here for.”
If you are feeling like everything is getting too much, there is help available.
Visit www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/ or call the Samaritans on 116 123.
There are also lots of contact number here: http://www.lancashiremind.org.uk/need-help-now/
Read more: One suicide every 17 days in Preston