Walk in memory of much-loved Harrogate teenager who died
People across Harrogate have come together to remember teenager Dom Sowa.
The three-mile walk took place at Swinsty Reservoir on Sunday, October 20 and was organised by Harrogate Grammar School and the Sowa family, in memory of the 17-year-old who died due to suicide.
This was the second Hopewalk in memory of Dom, who passed away two years ago.
A number of Hopewalks are taking place across the UK in October in support of Papyrus, a national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide.
Since his death the family have been determined to raise awareness of young suicide - the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35.
Pat Sowa, Dom’s mum, said: “When Dom died we were thrust into a club no one wants to be in.
“I was shocked and devastated to find that more than 250 school age children die by suicide each year and yet no one was talking about it.
“If we’d been given the skills to ask about suicide directly we might have been able to help Dom stay safe.”
The Sowa family have been dedicated to helping other people who are suffering from mental health problems since Dom’s death.
They raised more than £16,000 for multiple charities, including Papyrus, to help others who are struggling.
The Papyrus Hopewalk brought a wide range of teachers, pupils, family, and friends together.
The Hopeline run by Papyrus supports young people and anyone worried about them.
Since Dom’s death, the Sowa family and Harrogate Grammar School have worked together to spread the word that asking about suicide makes people safer.
They have said they want to make the topic more accessible and break down any stigma around it, encouraging people to be more open about their emotions and mental health.
Pat said: “It’s just not right that suicide is preventable and the skills and knowledge to help people are out there but not yet widely known about.
“More than anything else we want to stop the same thing happening to other families.
“We will have a Dom shaped hole in our lives forever so we are very grateful to Harrogate Grammar for the work they are doing to promote pupil and staff wellbeing which is the foundation
to building suicide safer communities.
“The Hopewalk brings us comfort as well as the chance to talk about suicide prevention and remind people that there is always hope and asking for help is the bravest thing to do.”
Dom was a talented musician, who loved to sing and play the saxophone but didn’t like to perform in public due to his struggles with social anxiety.
This has inspired his family to speak out about these issues and encourage others to speak up about how they are feeling in the same way they would speak about their physical health problems.
Dom’s family are continuing to call for anyone suffering from depression and anxiety to seek help as soon as possible, as early intervention in mental illness makes it much easier to treat.
They are continuing to raise awareness with mental health organisations.
Anyone who is in need of help, support or advice can contact Papyrus on 0800 068 4141.