226 shoes for 226 lives: the heartbreaking story behind the image

Written by Sarah Almond

226 pairs of children’s shoes were placed outside St. George’s Hall in Liverpool to represent the lost childhoods in 2017 due to suicide.

The powerful display was to mark the start of Children’s Mental Health Awareness week on Monday 4th February.

Mental health charity Chasing the Stigma created the display, and a Facebook post has since gone viral after being shared over 16,000 times, with people sharing their condolences.

Laura Thornton, co-founder of the nonprofit organisation You’re Not Alone – Elephant Pin, set up the foundation in homage to her late brother, Lee who committed suicide in 2018.

She said: “It was something for me to get off my chest and something to focus on when I had nowhere else to turn.

It was also to spread awareness because talking about suicide is seen as a very taboo subject and people are very scared and afraid to speak out.”

According to the Office of National Statistics, suicide has been the biggest killer amongst people of school age, with a rise of 67% since 2010.

Laura continued: “When looking at statistics, it doesn’t really make an impact. But when you see those 226 shoes outside, it really hits home… each pair represents a child.  It makes an impact, it makes us feel something. It puts it into perspective that that was a full life that was lost, not just a number on a piece of paper.

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health, contact these free helplines:

Samaritans – for everyone

Call 116 123

Email jo@samaritans.org

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men

Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day

Visit the webchat page

Papyrus – for people under 35

Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm

Text 07786 209697

Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Childline – for children and young people under 19

Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill

The Silver Line – for older people

Call 0800 4 70 80 90

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