AFTER shocking figures revealed that more people die by suicide on New Year's Day than at any other time during the year, a theatre and art company decided to host a remembrance event on more than 500 public phones to pay tribute to victims and their families.

This January 1, 2019, 593 public phones in St Helens and Liverpool will ring in unison at 11am as part of a collective act of remembrance, compassion and, most importantly, listening.

The free nine-minute interactive audio experience called Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) was created by award-winning theatre and digital art company ZU-UK in response to rising national suicide rates.

It is supported by 303 Crowdfunder backers and is being piloted in St Helens and Liverpool – in recognition that the area holds some of the highest suicide rates in the UK, with the highest being in St Helens – before it is launched nationally in 2020.

Persis Jadé Maravala from ZU-UK, said: “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.

“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, added: “Between 2015 to 2017, 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.”

Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) is being created with support from Crowdfunder backers, MIND in Camden, FACT Liverpool and Suicide Bereavement UK.

If you are feeling depressed or suicidal - or need someone to talk to for any reason - please call Samaritans on 116 123 on 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 or use the Next Generation Text Service.