Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Running to Beat Suicide


“Jacky Youldon’s running group helps suicide survivors and their friends and families find their feet again.” (Sam Murphy, Runner’s World, June 2019)

RunningSpace began in 2016 with me volunteering to teach a group of six non runners how to run. In the three years since, we’ve trained over two hundred people, eighty percent of whom were completely new to running.

Many participants have been affected by suicide, including me – either attempting to take their own lives or having lost family or friends to suicide. Other attendees live with mental health conditions, from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and autism.

We have trained over a hundred people in safeTALK, a World Health Organisation (WHO) ratified suicide prevention training programme. We are now looking ahead to the next steps in order to fulfil our mission.
Mission Statement
Our passion and calling are to see every life lived in all its fullness and not one be lost to suicide.
How will we achieve this?
  • By educating and training communities to become able, appropriate and available to those suffering with thoughts of suicide.
  • By pioneering a worldwide movement of runners who will run, pray, and raise awareness for those affected by suicide.
  • By working with communities to build prevention and recovery programmes which include Walk2Run groups, building relationship connections, developing links with clinicians, facilitating volunteering, and job creation for example.

We believe that “every person we run with has treasure and riches within them, often buried deep under hurt and pain of abuse, abandonment, and rejection. Our purpose is to run shoulder to shoulder with you, and in running to help shake the dirt off each other’s lives and pull out the treasure.”

The WHO estimates that each year approximately 800,000 people die from suicide. This means that someone dies by suicide almost every forty seconds. For every suicide there are an estimated twenty attempts: every two seconds someone in the world is trying to kill themselves.

RunningSpace currently delivers five Walk2Run groups per week across Bexhill and Hastings, we have trained up three new coaches from within our own ranks, with a further six are about to begin their own coaching journey. Of those nine, at least six are survivors of suicide. Sessions are completely free including refreshments. Many people struggling with suicide and mental health are also struggling financially.

Almost since inception, we have been based at The Pelham charity in Bexhill with whom we share the same vision, to see people restored. The Pelham is a Christian endeavour, recognised for its contribution towards all aspects of health and wellbeing. RunningSpace has recently been adopted as a partnership project of the charity, a mutually supportive relationship that enables us to offer connection, volunteering and other training opportunities, as well as a shared infrastructure and support through the CEO and The Pelham Trustees.

We are based in Bexhill, but of course suicide happens everywhere. We have received requests to help people set up their own Walk2Run groups to beat suicide in other areas of Sussex and the South of England. We plan to
  • Follow a social franchising model to enable us to expand without growing an organisation the traditional way that creates a distance from the ‘frontline’. Through building RunningSpace as a social franchise, we can benefit from the existing local expertise, experience and knowledge in other locations whilst spreading our message widely and consistently.
  • Develop a training and mentoring programme to provide progression pathways for participants whilst at the same time increasing capacity.
  • Produce resources and materials to support the delivery of Walk2Run groups ‘where you are’, following the proven and pioneering successful tools, skills and ethos we’ve worked hard on for the last three years.
  • Begin the working out of the vison of the intercessory element of RunningSpace. We will develop our WhatsApp group of people who pray for those affected by suicide. We also want to deliver the first stages of a new project, Running in the Gap, to offer prayers, raise awareness or provide support for those affected by suicide.
  • Build on our trusted status we have in Rother to grow our connections with clinicians and other suicide support agencies.T
  • he Walk2Run groups are currently funded by Optivo, a local housing association, and the Heart of Sidley, a Big Lottery fund recipient until July 2019.


You can support the ministry by visiting our website RunningSpace.org and clicking on the Give.Net button, or this link will take you straight there. 

Many many thanks for your support in advance, 

Jacky and the team

Come and run with us, it might just change your life...






Friday, 25 January 2019

Call it what it is

Are you thinking about suicide? If you are, tell someone. 
There is help out there, please click here 

I was chatting with a Walk2Runner this morning about the RunningSpace logo and my plan to add a tag line to it, ‘Running to beat Suicide’.

He balked a little and suggested I might want to consider something less full-on, such as Running to beat Despair.

The trouble is, I AM Running to Beat Suicide. Ever since I started this journey, I've been very clear that I must not dilute the message. We run, but it’s not to lose weight, get fit, make friends, it’s not even to support good mental health, although it does all of the above and more. Our number one and our only goal is to Run to beat Suicide.

Let’s explode a myth. Asking someone with thoughts of suicide “are you thinking about suicide”…

…Does NOT
                Put the idea into their head. After all, it’s extremely unlikely that they’re never heard of suicide or know that it’s an option

…DOES
                Let that person know that you are comfortable and confident talking about suicide. Direct talking actually reduces risk and increases safety. In fact, if you ask someone who is feeling suicidal directly “Are you thinking about suicide?”, they often feel relieved.

As I teach safeTALK Suicide Alertness for Everyone, I can pretty much tell who in the room has experienced suicidal thoughts. It tends to be those who have never encountered it that find it difficult to say the word. And that’s completely OK, that was me too, and that’s why they’ve chosen to attend the training.  

What euphemisms do we use instead of talking directly about suicide? We talk about “doing something silly” (could be dressing up as Ronald Macdonald). We talk about “feeling like I’ve had enough” (chocolate cake?). We also are pretty OK with “are you self-harming?”. Yet even this, though tragic and needing support, does not help us know whether suicide is involved or not.  

How then do we know if suicide is involved?

There is only one way.

Ask directly. “Are you thinking about suicide”.

If the answer is ‘yes’, the next step is simply to listen. Say “This is important, I am listening.”


My passion is to see every life lived in all its fullness and not one be lost to suicide. For now, I am letting you know that by using our new logo we are saying that we are comfortable and confident talking about suicide, and we are Running to Beat Suicide.

Come and run with us, it might just save a life.



Sunday, 6 January 2019

Send us your stories

If you're feeling like you want to die, Get Help Now

Are you a survivor or suicide? Firstly, well done, we’re so pleased you’re here.

Secondly, we would like to hear your story. Telling stories is powerful way to share hope and to show others that there can be a full life beyond feeling suicidal.

We also know that the best way to make our communities suicide safer is by talking about suicide. Fact.

We’ll leave it up to you whether you keep your story anonymous or use your name. By sending us your story we will assume that until or unless you tell us otherwise, you’re happy for us to pass your story on to benefit others who might need your encouragement. Write your story, use video, photos, art, whatever works for you!

One day I’d like to put stories of life in all its fullness together in a book. Let's dream a little...

For now, we look forward to hearing from you and being inspired to life. You can email your story to  Jacky@RunningSpace.org

Bless ya