LEADING Senior Constable Des Hudson was on a shift in the police call centre when a woman rang, alone but reaching out. She wanted to end her life.
These are the difficult conversations Leading Senior Constable Hudson is trained to answer. Off-duty he is chairman for Ballarat and District Suicide Prevention Network. The calls was years ago but he stuck to framework similar to what the network trains community members in using - fundamentally this is about keeping her safe, getting professional help and making sure he understood her decision without judgement.
Leading Senior Constable Hudson said it was important people know it was okay to not be okay and to reach out for help. He said it was equally important for people to check in with each other and to find tangible ways to alleviate pressures so all the little niggles did not build.
"Suicide prevention is about keeping everyone connected," Leading Senior Constable said. "Daily stresses of life can add up - you don't necessarily have to have a mental illness to complete suicide."
Daily stresses of life can add up - you don't necessarily have to have a mental illness to complete suicide.Leading Senior Constable Des Hudson
The network is hosting its annual Out of the Shadows reflection walk by Lake Wendouree on Saturday morning. More than 200 people attended the walk last year, the biggest turnout for the event. More than 90 names were registered on the memorial role this year.
Leading Senior Constable Hudson said increased awareness and breaking down of the stigma surrounding suicide were big factors in the numbers. But this also highlighted a growing issue that needed attention in this community.
Out of the Shadows gathers at the rotunda near Pipers by the Lake for a 5.30am start. People walk through reflective points in Ballarat Botanical Gardens and finish for a symbolic dawning of new day as the sun rises over the lake. Lifeline volunteers are close by for support.
"You're walking with people who are also walking in your shoes. They have been through a similar experience, even if you feel alone," Leading Senior Constable Hudson said.
"Even if the weather is inclement people turn up and push through because the day means so much to them and the person they are honouring."
Out of the Shadows is held ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday.
Those taking part in the walk are to gather at the rotunda at 5.10am. A hot breakfast, cooked by Rotary Club of Ballarat South, will be provided after the walk.
In 2017, the last reporting period, there were 3,128 Australian lives lost to suicide. Each year about 80,000 Australians attempt suicide.
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, contact Lifeline 13 11 14.
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