‘Speak their Name’ memorial quilt aims to tackle the stigma around suicide in South Yorkshire

Written by Katya Witney

Families of suicide victims in South Yorkshire will are creating a memorial quilt to commemorate their loved ones and tackle the stigma around suicide.

Karen Sykes and Anna Scott, founders of the Speak their Name initiative who have both lost family members to suicide, will oversee the creation of the quilt which will be made of individual cotton squares created by others in the county who have lost loved ones.

Ms Sykes who lost her husband and daughter to suicide said: “Every square is beautiful because behind it is actually a person that’s lost, and that remains very precious to the bereaved.

“You don’t have to be a talented artist or an embroiderer, you can do anything in the square. People paint, people have a picture of their loved ones, and people use things like buttons, shapes, and sequins.

“It also brings people together who are isolated. If you are bereaved to suicide it’s a different kind of grief. There’s a lot of guilt there.”

The project follows a similar initiative in Manchester in 2020 and is being supported by the Southwest Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust.

It is hoped the project will draw attention to rising suicide rates in South Yorkshire as well as encourage those who are struggling with grief to reach out for help.

Quilt squares

Ms Sykes estimates the group already has almost 200 people interested in making a square, a stat which she said is both sad and overwhelming.

Yorkshire and the Humber have the joint highest suicide rate in the country, alongside the Northeast, with 11.5 deaths per 100 000 people.

Men in the county are more likely to take their own life with a death rate of 17.3 per 100,000 men compared to 6 per 100,000 women.

The Speak Their Name campaign group also hopes the quilt will give families of suicide victims a way to express their grief through art and help to reduce stress and anxiety amongst those who are bereaved.

Ms Sykes said: “The work of the quilt introduces art and therapy in a different way. It’s non-judgmental, it brings individuals that are bereaved to suicide together that might have never accessed or feel the urge to access a service or seek support.

Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide and wishes to create a square for the quilt should contact the Speak Their Name initiative via email at yorkshirespeaktheirname@gmail.com

The final quilt will be displayed in various places across South Yorkshire and will be launched on World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September 2022.

For more information on suicide bereavement support in West Yorkshire, please visit: www.suicidepreventionwestyorkshire.co.uk

Written by Katya Witney

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