Illuminating how to talk about suicide

UNITY: Out of the shadows walkers pause by a reflection point, near the conservatory, where they could release raw emotions. Picture: Jeremy Bannister
UNITY: Out of the shadows walkers pause by a reflection point, near the conservatory, where they could release raw emotions. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

READ MORE: Out of dark shadows

A symbolic walk from darkness into daylight is just part of the conversation people should be having with each other.

Ballarat and District Suicide Prevention Network chairman Des Hudson wants more people as comfortable in talking about suicide as they are in talking about issues like the road toll.

“It’s about knowing how and having the conversation and not being afraid to use the d-word,” Ballarat Police Leading Senior Constable Hudson said.

“Death is part of the conversation and it’s about not skirting around the edges.”

The network, teaming with Lifeline Ballarat, hosted its annual Out of Shadows at the weekend, starting by Lake Wendouree and moving through Ballarat Botanical Gardens. A path lit by tea candles lights the way to four reflection points, including a roll call, drawing together those personally affected by suicide and those wanting to advocate for change and to raise greater preventative awareness.

The walk is about breaking the stigma of suicide and a big part of this is in how to talk about it.

Ballarat and District Suicide Prevention Network has a strong focus in training community members in safe talking for how to best approach concerns of suicide or suicidal tendencies with work colleagues, loved ones or neighbours.

Leading Senior Constable Hudson said people too often associated the suicide of a loved one or colleague with feeling they should have seen the signs more or could have done more to stop it.

Rather, he said greater awareness in how to have honest conversations and listening was important.

Leading Senior Constable Hudson, who is also a City of Ballarat councillor, said eight Australians each day completed suicide. Ballarat has well-documented higher rates of suicide than the national average and this was why the suicide prevention network was set up here and working hard to create a community presence.

Out of the Shadows was timed to lead into World Suicide Prevention Day at the weekend and RU OK Day on Thursday. If you or someone you know is in need of support, callLifeline on 13 11 14.