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Dawns of hope after loss to suicide

Laura Barnes is a cis white female with brown hair. She is smiling at the camera
Laura Barnes
17 November 2023
The Sunrise team sit on a rock at Carn Brea. A beautiful dawn sky emerges in the background with puffy clouds. It's layers of orange and yellow.

Four school friends from Redruth have launched a new organisation to support people who have been affected by suicide in Cornwall. Sunrise, led by husband and wife Co-Founders, will provide safe and supportive events, workshops and activities focusing on music, art and wellbeing.

Serena Pettigrew-Jolly, Co-Founder and Director says;

“My younger brother Sonny took his life in January 2019 which completely shook our lives, devasting us all. Since then, we have wanted to help other people going through similar experiences, and to do something positive with our grief. Sonny was a brilliant person and we miss him so much. He was an incredible musician and artist, so it feels right to focus on these themes through Sunrise. Creativity can be such a helpful and hopeful way to cope with loss.”

Shockingly, an average of 135 people are exposed to every suicide (‘exposed’ meaning they knew the person, whether is it a friend, sibling, partner, parent, child, family member or colleagues). Evidence shows a detrimental impact on the mental health of those who have lost someone they know to suicide.

The experience of bereavement to suicide is unique for everyone. It can sometimes feel difficult to talk about with others, making people feel isolated and prone to depression, anxiety and trauma. This is known as the ‘ripple-effect’, which is something Sunrise want to reduce, through opportunities for self-expression and self-care.

There are 70 to 80 suicides in Cornwall every year, which means that up to 10,800 people are exposed to these deaths.

Elliott Jolly, Co-Founder and Director says;

“Unfortunately, so many of us are exposed to suicide yet there is very limited support available, so we feel that Sunrise is desperately needed in Cornwall. We want to build a community where people can share their experiences in a safe space, access positive support for their mental health and wellbeing, and reduce the stigma.”

The team at Sunrise believe there needs to be wider, community-based support from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector in order to provide essential longer, life-time support, well beyond the first year of loss. More support – and for a wider demographic – is desperately needed.

Alongside Serena and Elliott are fellow Sunrise Directors Becky Fox and Jasmin Appleby. Between the team they have a wide-ranging wealth of experience, from mental health support, suicide prevention, mentoring and event management, to yoga teaching and holistic therapies.

Their events, workshops and activities will be supported by trained Sunrise facilitators, and lead by experts in the fields of music, art and wellbeing. Sunrise will concentrate on providing support in mid-Cornwall in the first stage, but they aim to widen the locations as the organisation grows.

Serena continues,

“If you have been affected by the loss of someone you know to suicide, please take part in our short survey. You can also keep an eye on our website , Facebook or Instagram pages where we will be sharing our news, events and ways to get involved.”


The team is currently encouraging people to take part in their 3-minute survey, which will help shape Sunrise and the support it offers during what can be the most challenging of times.

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