Shirley Ballas, Amber Gill, And Jamie Laing Launch The CALM Campaign

The ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ judge is an ambassador for suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), which has today (22.06.22) unveiled its ‘The Last Photo’ exhibition to challenge the stigma and stereotypes surrounding suicide.

The poignant outdoor gallery, which is on London’s South Bank, displays 50, 6.5-foot high, smiling photos taken in the last days of people who took their own lives and shares the stories of shock, sadness and heartbreak their friends and families experienced.

Shirley – who unveiled the gallery alongside fellow CALM ambassadors Jamie Laing and Amber Gill – said: “I can still feel the shock of the news running through my body, a cold and chilling feeling of disbelief when my brother died by suicide on the 5th of December all those years ago.

“A life lost that in my opinion could have been saved if we’d been more educated and understood more about communicating feelings.

“Through this campaign we want to help people get familiar with what signs to look out for if someone is struggling, and feel more confident about starting that conversation.

“Whether that’s around the dinner table, in the pub, or in parliament, if we can make the conversation inescapable, we can all help to save a life.”

New research conducted by YouGov for CALM has uncovered new insights into the public’s understanding of suicide, reveals 61 per cent would struggle to tell if someone they knew felt suicidal.

Only 24 per cent of people think that someone experiencing suicidal thoughts would also smile and joke and just 22 per cent of those polled would share happy photos on social media.

‘Made in Chelsea’ star Jamie has encouraged people to “start a conversation” to help stop suicide.

He said: “There’s no one way a person feeling suicidal will act – and we can all be masters of disguise.

“But by starting a conversation, we can all help stop suicide. That’s why we’re here to ask everyone to join us, unite against suicide and start talking about it.

“Because only by talking about it can we save lives. Together we can remove the stigma that surrounds suicide and make it an everyday conversation.”

Former ‘Love Island’ star Amber added: “It’s not always easy to know when someone is feeling low but we need to trust our instincts and ask the question, ‘How are you really doing?’

“The worst thing that can happen is a brief period of awkwardness vs years of regret. The more we talk openly about mental health and suicide, the less stigma surrounds it.”

The exhibition – at Riverside Central, London Southbank (Lambeth Council), SE1 9PP – will be open to the public on Wednesday 22nd June to Sunday 26th June.

For more information on the campaign or for practical advice on how to take action and help spot the signs, head to thecalmzone.net/thelastphoto

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