SPAN walk starts the conversation
March 22, 2015 HAYLEY SORENSEN The Bendigo Advertiser
BENDIGO residents came together on Sunday to banish the stigma surrounding suicide.
About 550 people took part in the annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Network walk.
Walkers made their way from the Dai Gum San precinct through Rosalind Park and the central business district, before returning to Dai Gum San where friends and family of those who died by suicide placed cut-out butterflies on a net in memory of their loved ones.
Victoria Police Superintendent Mick West said Bendigo was overrepresented in suicide statistics.
“Suicide is a quiet killer in our community,” he said.
“The Loddon area is trending upwards in the last 15 years, against the trend of the rest of Victoria and also Australia. We as a community have some serious thinking and work to do to turn that around.”
Superintendent West said there had been 20 incidents of suicide in the area in the past 12 months as well as 30 “serious attempts”.
“The tragedy that imparts on the families, the community, emergency service workers and the public as a whole raises a number of questions and should spur us on do something,” he said.
City of Greater Bendigo mayor Peter Cox said suicide had taken too high a toll on the city.
“It is important we continue to decrease the stigma around suicide and encourage people to talk about their concerns and thoughts about suicide,” he said.
He reflected on his own personal experience with suicide.
“One night, I received a phone call from a work colleague, saying he would be over to see me,” he said.
“Sometime later, a car pulled up but drove straight off.
“I was never able to talk to him again. I was totally unaware of his circumstances.”
SPAN founder Alannah McGregor started the walk in 2012, determined to get the topic out in the open after the deaths of her two children Stuart and Angela by suicide 12 years ago.
“If my experience can highlight the need for more discussion and better mental health outcomes, then I’m happy to do that,” she said.
What would you say to a person who said ……
“I don’t amount to anything. I may as well end it all.”
“I can’t go on living like this. Life is hopeless.”
“I’ve done all that can be done. There is only one thing left to do.”