For some, skydiving is a freedom-seeking adrenaline rush, but for Casey O’Neill, jumping out of an airplane means a lot more than just conquering her fears.
The 17-year-old from King Arthurs Way, Andover, UK, will embark on a 10,000 foot skydive this July in an effort to raise money for Papyrus, an organization that seeks to improve mental health support and awareness. It’s a cause that’s near and dear to O’Neill, whose close friend took their own life after a lengthy battle with depression. “It is personal to me due to the amount of people who have committed suicide as a way out in Andover,” said O’Neill, who hopes her bold dive will help those battling depression.
“I have personally experienced the loss of somebody close to me in this way, and I want to try and prevent other people and families from going through this trauma.”
The daring teen, who asked that her deceased friend not be identified, hopes to raise £700 in order to help those suffering from conditions like depression. Recent figures suggest that nearly 1 in 5 UK adults experience anxiety, depression, or some other mental health issue. It’s a long-quieted issue that has undoubtedly played a role in the over 6,000 suicides to happen in the UK this year alone. “Losing somebody so close to me has really affected me because it has made me realize how strong some people can be on the surface but underneath they feel lost and alone.”
“It’s opened my eyes to how unaware I was of mental health.”
Mental health has come to the public forefront as of late, with Prince Harry’s comments about his own struggles garnering significant press coverage. Alongside the Duke of Cambridge, the youngest son of the late Princess Diana is championing the Heads Together campaign in an effort to combat the stigma surrounding mental health. O’Neill noted that while the issue is becoming more talked about publicly, an uptick in awareness is still needed. “There has been a lot of media coverage around the royal family discussing mental health and how it affected them, but it happens to everyone on every level whether you are part of the royal family or an ordinary family.” The Andover teen continued:
“I want to raise as much money which will hopefully make a difference to somebody’s life and make them think twice and realize there are other ways to cope with mental health.”
The skydive challenge takes place on July 6, 2017 in Salisbury, and it will not be the first adventurous fundraising effort made by O’Neill, who also climbed London’s O2 Arena for mental health charity Andover Mind. Outside of her thrill-seeking charitable efforts, the 17-year-old plans to begin her studies at Andover College in September. O’Neill will also be hosting a fundraising fun day as a lead-up to the skydiving event. Taking place at the Wolversdene Club at 10am, guests can expect a barbecue, a bouncy castle, face painting and a raffle.
All proceeds from the event will go toward the teen’s goal of £700.