A mum who lost her son to suicide says he “was with me” when she took the plunge to dive out of a plane at 14,000 feet. Sarah Horton-Walsh faced her fear of heights by skydiving in memory of her son, Harry Horton-Walsh, who died of suicide.
Sarah, Coventry University’s head of the school of marketing and management, was part of a group of 21 of Harry’s family and friends who jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet to raise money for PAPYRUS, the national charity for the Prevention of Young Suicide, on 12th August 2023.
Sarah said about the jump: “The multi-storey car park at work gives me the heebie-jeebies, and at first, the jump was sheer terror because you fall at a rate of knots, and it’s horrible. But after that second, even though you’re still falling fast before they open the parachute, it’s just exhilaration.
“It’s mad – I’ve never felt like it, and people keep telling me I never stopped smiling. But honestly, I felt like Harry was with me. It was such a strong feeling; I could feel it inside, and it was lovely. I can’t wait to do another one.”
So far, Sarah and her family and friends have raised £5,572 for PAPYRUS, with donations still coming in slowly. We are proud to have done this before World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday, 10th September, with the theme of “Creating Hope Through Action”.
Sarah spoke about how this message serves as a powerful call to action and a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and that we can encourage hope and strengthen prevention through our actions.
She said: “It’s about having a series of small or large actions that can be used to create hope. I have long found it difficult to see hope, and I try not to look too far forward, but doing things like the skydive gives me that little bit of hope, and I’m just going to hold on to that.
“Whether it’s a skydive or just a conversation with somebody. There are everyday moments that we can all contribute to – a bit of action that can give other people hope.
“Suicide is a horrible thing that, in most cases, is preventable, and, shockingly, it kills more people under the age of 35 than anything else. It’s catapulted me into a world where when you scratch the surface, you find that people want to feel that they can talk, whether for them or somebody else. It’s not just about looking at a person’s mental health; people feel suicidal due to physical or emotional abuse, alcohol abuse and financial insecurity.”