Breaking the Taboo: Prince William and Duchess Kate Tackle Suicide Prevention in Latest Mental Health Campaign Initiative

PHOTO: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge speak to former patients during their visit to St Thomas Hospital, March 10, 2016, in London.Toby Melville/Pool/Getty Images
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge speak to former patients during their visit to St Thomas' Hospital, March 10, 2016, in London.

Prince William and Duchess Kate are lifting the veil on one of the most difficult and vexing subjects young people are struggling with as they grow up: suicide.

The future king and queen are continuing their mental health campaign, which has become the number one priority in their charitable endeavors.

The royal couple Thursday comforted mental health patients at St. Thomas Hospital in London, where a suicide prevention program strives to provide a safe place for young people contemplating suicide.

VIDEO: Duchess Kates New PSAPlay
Duchess Kate Champions Mental Health in New PSA

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with Jonny Benjamin, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 20. Benjamin felt so lost that he attempted to take his life, jumping off a bridge in London six years ago.

A passerby saw Benjamin and talked him off the ledge. Benjamin started a campaign to find the good Samaritan called Neil Laybourn, who changed his life and gave him the courage to survive and deal with his disease.

The campaign went viral. William and Kate visited the two men and other young people struggling with mental disease.

“Someone told me five people a day try and kill themselves,” William told the two men. “I was just blown away by the statistics.”

With Kate at his side, he added: “For both of us, the mental health piece has got lots of aspects. It's such a big issue that we need to do something about it.”

William’s job as an air ambulance pilot has exposed him to several young men who felt hopeless and wanted to end their lives. As a result, William was struck by the lack of resources for young men struggling with suicidal thoughts.

William, Kate, and Prince Harry are making a renewed commitment to raise awareness on this issue. William plans to focus on male suicide and his brother, Harry, is committed to raising awareness of veterans who’re struggling with mental health issues and invisible injuries.

Kate has been highlighting children's mental health and has stressed repeatedly that mental health is often the root cause of more significant problems later in life, like addiction homelessness, crime and abuse.

"We see through the work we do with addiction, homelessness and knife crime that a lot of it stems back to childhood,” she said.

Benjamin said he hoped to encourage young people who had feelings of hopelessness.

“I wanted to let people know it's OK to have suicidal thoughts and feelings,” he said. “When you're in a place where you want to end your life, you've got no hope left and no belief left in yourself.”

William and Kate later returned to Kensington Palace where people screened a documentary about Benjamin’s suicide attempt and quest to find the man who saved his life.

William encouraged the young people who had been invited to the palace to feel comfortable taking about their concerns and feelings.

"I really feel that we don't listen and we don't talk enough so I hope that, if anything, you take away from today is to talk amongst yourselves, to share your problems and communicate and be there for each other,” he said. “Thank you all for being here today and sharing.”

The duchess has made the mental well-being of young people her priority. Just last month she issued a public service announcement on mental health. She also turned Kensington Palace into a makeshift newsroom to participate as guest editor of a special blog on mental health awareness.

Earlier in the day Thursday, William and Kate made a private visit to a charity providing a residential care center for suicidal young people.