St Helens and Liverpool will host the pilot of an ambitious interactive public artwork on more than 500 public phones in remembrance of all those lost to suicide.
At 11am on New Year’s Day, more people die by suicide than at any other time during the year.
This January 1, 2019, theatre and digital art company ZU-UK will mark this fact by inviting people across St Helens and Liverpool to take part in a collective act of remembrance, compassion and, most importantly, listening. And it begins with all 593 public phones in the area ringing in unison at 11am.
Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) is a nine-minute interactive audio experience on public phones designed to encourage people to think about our ability to listen in a world which is growing louder by the day.
Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) is supported by 303 Crowdfunder backers and is being piloted in St. Helens and Liverpool before it is launched nationally in 2020.
Persis Jadé Maravala from ZU-UK explained: “Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) is an invitation to reconnect with our ability to listen. In our increasingly noisy world, it’s vital we exercise our skills in cutting through that noise to listen to what’s truly important – what connects and unites as human beings.”
ZU-UK are piloting the project in Liverpool and St Helens in recognition that the area holds some of the highest suicide rates in the UK, with the highest being in St Helens.
Maravala continued: “Whilst we’re not looking to provide a ‘cure’ for suicide we want to provide a space where we can all reflect on the importance of listening, because in doing so we may just help someone struggling with loneliness and isolation to want to stay in the world.”
Peter Kinderman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool, said: “Between 2015-17, St Helens had a suicide rate of 17.9 suicides per 100,000 population. That was the highest in England and Wales and nearly double the already unacceptable national average of 9.6 suicides per 100,000 people.
“Whilst the reasons that cause any one of us to contemplates suicide are individual and unique, we know that social isolation is a major contributing factor. Projects like Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) are valuable reminders of the importance of listening as a way of compassionately supporting those of us who might be struggling.”
If you are feeling depressed or suicidal - or need someone to talk to for any reason - you can call Samaritans on 116 123. Any time of day, any day of the year, from any phone. Completely free. Callers who are deaf or have hearing or speech impairments can email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the Next Generation Text Service.