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Nine suicide survivors from Kent have had their words about getting through life after coming close to ending it all, set to music.
Created and sung by singer/songwriter Anil Sebastian, Look Up will be released on all music platforms on Monday 13th May for Mental Health Awareness Week to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people who survive suicidal feelings.
Look Up was created as part of the Living Warriors project in Folkestone in March, using words from each of the project participants’ books that they created as lyrics.
Living Warriors participant TJ Frost said: ‘I am 47 and this is the first time I have felt truly heard. No one there minded my ugly.’
Fellow participant Sally Ann Cranage said: ‘This was the best project I have ever been involved in. I thought I had dealt with the past, this project helped me release the final shame I still felt. Amazing.’
Living Warriors was conceived and run by the pioneering arts charity Living Words, and is funded through the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’s (STP) ‘Saving Lives’ suicide prevention fund. Anil Sebastian is a Living Words artist, as well as a singer/songwriter, and worked on the Living Warriors project. He and Susanna – who ran the project – both have direct personal experience of this issue, the third Living Words writer Shazea Quraishi, indirect personal experience.
Singer Anil said: ‘It’s been a genuine privilege to work on the Living Warriors project, listening to and sharing the voices and experiences of those of us who have wanted to end our lives. Surviving suicidal thoughts is something that should be celebrated, but it is not the end of the challenges that we face.’
The Saving Lives suicide prevention innovation fund was created by Kent and Medway STP, a partnership of NHS organisations, Kent County Council and Medway Council. It was launched to support groups across the county explore new ways to work with and support people who have attempted and have been or are at risk of dying by suicide.
Living Warriors explored what had stopped people completing on suicide – something the UK has very little data on. As well as the song, participants co-created their own book of words and the group published an anthology called ‘Living Warriors’.
Living Warriors took place in Folkestone library and used a unique space built from scratch, so the group felt at home and not in a medicalised or overtly therapeutic environment. The walls were covered in paper and throughout the month-long project participants wrote on the walls to express their feelings – which were then used in the book and song.
Lauretta Kavanagh, the lead for mental health at Kent and Medway STP said: ‘I follow Living Words and had wondered if their unique Listen Out Loud methodology would work with other people who we need to hear from.
‘I am delighted that the success of Living Warriors has helped some Kent people who came near to dying by suicide and the people close to them on their healing journey. I support this approach being used more widely across the country in the future.’
Started in 2007 by writer and actor Susanna Howard, Living Words is most well-known for working one-to-one with people living with advanced dementia, using their ‘Listen Out Loud’ methodology. Living Words take people’s words out to the public through books, performance, films and song recently partnered with London Contemporary Voices – run by Anil and their partner Didier Rochard – to showcase Living Words work at Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank.
You can listen to the single Look Up by clicking here here and see images from the project set to the song. Across Mental Health Awareness Week Look Up will profile the project on the following dates:
- Monday 13th May – Music released online
- Tuesday 14th May – KCC/NHS ‘Saving Lives’ conference, Maidstone: song sung live, and officially ‘launched’.
- Wednesday 15th May – Anthology of words from the Living Warriors project, available for sale online £5 each.
- Thursday 16th May – Words of project participants about self-harm and body image shared on Facebook
- Friday 17th May – Facebook live chat with Living Words founder Susanna and project participant: 1pm – 1.30pm
- Saturday 18th May – LCV concert, Queen Elizabeth Hall
- Sunday 19th May – Reflection on the week
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