Live Video: Suicide awareness campaigner 'buried alive' outside church
A SUICIDE and addiction awareness campaigner has been buried alive outside an east Belfast church in a "radical move" to reach people with mental health issues.
Dubliner John Edwards (62), who set up the Walking Free charity after recovering from his own drug and alcohol addictions, was 'buried' outside Willowfield Parish Church yesterday afternoon.
He will remain underground until Friday.
His 'coffin' is deep enough to allow him to sit up and he also has electricity and broadband to live stream his experience over the three days.
Mr Edwards, who now lives in England, acknowledged that his stunt may cause controversy but said he wanted to raise awareness of suicide.
"I know this is a radical move but people are continually contacting me who are either suicidal or who know friends or family who are," he said.
"My plan is to speak to them from the grave before they get there and show them hope."
Mr Edwards said he will take take calls, emails, Skype calls and texts from people who can share stories of how they overcame "trauma, suicide attempts, coping with addicted children or family members as well as addiction to substance and behaviour".
Willowfield Rector David McClay said the 'burial' began on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent.
"The season of Lent is one when Christians talk about dying to ourselves," he said.
"But the message from the grave is one of hope - hope for those who are struggling with addictions, hope for those who feel life is hopeless, and hope of life that is eternal."
For more information, see walkingfree.org.