Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Out of the Shadows, Into the Light 2016

World Suicide Prevention Week started on Monday.  Today, September 10th, is World Sucide Prevention Day. 

Most of you know I do voluntary work with Lifeline Australia, a telephone crisis line.  Almost everyone who rings those lines with thoughts of suicide has at least a degree of ambivalence.  I, and all the other volunteers, will work on that ambivalence to keep the caller safe for the moment/the day and to help them see and consider other options.   Lifeline believes that suicide is often preventable and that the start of the journey to safety can be only a phone call away.  It is often a long and painful journey but should never ever be one that people feel condemned to walk alone.

Here in Australia suicide is still the leading cause of death for people aged under 44.  More people die from suicide each year than are killed on the roads.  Sadly the numbers of people we lose to suicide are rising again.  Which, given that I suspect suicide is under reported, is scary.

Not only does suicide take its toll on our young, there are other groups who are over-represented in its tragic ranks including (but not limited to) our indigenous population, people with mental health issues, farmers, and the military.  We lose more of our veterans (and those still serving) to suicide than we do in combat. 

In 2011 Lifeline began  national suicide prevention walks - 'Out of the Shadows and into the Light'. The walks begin before dawn and continue into the growing light.  It remembers those lost and those bereaved by suicide, with an addition focus on raising awareness.  The symbolism of starting the walk in the dark and progressing into the light of a new day means a lot to me.

I don't think that all suicide is wrong.  However, it is such a final decision that I hope it is not the first option considered or tried.  And, as a solution to a temporary problem, I do think it is wrong.  It is always a tragedy.  A tragedy for the person who had, or believed they had, no other options and a tragedy for those they leave behind.  And the ripples from that tragedy encompass a lot of people.  Research shows that each time someone suicides, there are up to 135 people affected.  

I couldn't attend the first walk, but have gone on the subsequent walks. Which saw me heading off again before dawn this morning.  The dread disease means that I am not walking easily or well at the moment - but I didn't care.  The issue is much more important than I am.    So I walked.  Slowly, at the back of the pack.  Stopping to take photos.

This year we again started from our National War Memorial and did a loop down Anzac Parade towards Lake Burley Griffin and back to the War Memorial.  Our Parliament House is directly opposite on the other side of the lake. 

There were brief speeches.  Some of the names of those lost were read out - which I find moving.  No longer nameless, but identified and missed...  I added the name of the father of a friend to the list.  Illness and disability had made his life intolerable.  His family understood, but grieve.

The skies opened this morning.  Buckets of rain.  Tears from the sky?  Come walk with me, through the cool, wet and cloudy dawn, into the hopeful light of a new day.






The empty seats were reserved for those who have gone before us.















RU OK day is also celebrated in World Suicide Prevention Week.  A question we should be asking family, friends and colleagues every day.




Some services which may be useful for Australian readers include:
Lifeline 1311 14
Beyond Blue
Suicide Call Back Service

107 comments:

  1. A very moving post, EC. I'm in awe of what you and the others do and did today for those who are feeling lost. More awareness is needed. I'm not familiar with anything like what you're doing in our area but hopefully there is. You inspire, my friend. Take care and keep up the wonderful work.

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    1. Mason Canyon: I hope there is something similar in your area. Sadly it is a world wide need.

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  2. I love that this happens. In a perfect world we would not need to even consider suicide but we live in a very imperfect world. I also love you for going out to walk even though it is difficult and causes you pain. xo

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    1. Birdie: Thank you. You are very right about our imperfect world. I am a tired puppy now, and am going back to bed for a bit.

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    2. Here's hoping you have a good rest :-)

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    3. The Happy Whisk: I did. A couple of hours intermittent nap.

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  3. something not often talked about but sorely needed

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    1. Linda Starr: Here at least we are starting to talk about it more. A small step in the right direction.

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  4. Very nicely written post. Glad you got out there and did that and very cool that you do the phone lines.

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    1. The Happy Whisk: I am glad I went. I have been on the phone lines for a very long time now - eighteen and a half years. It is a part of my life.

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  5. Your mindfulness and compassion are equaled only by your strength of character. My gratitude. A valued correspondent, Robyn Engel (https://www.blogger.com/profile/15997241410192066577) in Chico, a town near here --by California standards, 100 miles-- in which Norma and I lived for a year (1970-71, good heavens!) also organizes and participates in these walks. Your movement is growing, as well it should. I have measureless admiration for all who participate. My compliments and appreciation.

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    1. Geo: Thank you. I follow Robyn myself and did know that she does a similar work in Chico. It must be coming up again soon too.

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    2. Thank you, dear friends. Our Out of the Darkness event will be on 10/15. Love to you.

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  6. Yes, tears from the sky. It's heartbreaking to know how many people actually commit suicide. The pictures tell the story. Thank you for this, EC. :-(

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    1. DJan: I don't know what the statistics are in your country, but suspect they are similar - in much the same groups. Sad and bad.

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  7. Thanks for taking us on your walk- I agree that there were tears from the sky. It is so wonderful that you do such important work. Thanks for doing your best to help so many people.
    ~Jess

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    1. DMS ~ Jess: Thank you. I get an immense amount from my voluntary work. More than I give.

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  8. I have much admiration for Lifeline and the work volunteers such as yourself do for them.

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    1. Anna: I am blown away at how many calls we take a day. And just how much we are needed.

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  9. I've seen people beginning to talk openly about suicide when a loved one makes that choice. It is a good start, opening the door and windows, letting the light in so we can see the way through

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    1. Marie Smith: I believe we need to talk about it. Things hidden in the dark have a nasty habit of festering and growing.

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  10. My brother tried to commit suicide when he was at Uni due to my mother. The doctors don't know how he survived. He was given a stomach pump etc. But I'm not sure what other support he received at the time. He's now happily married with 3 grown up kids of his own.

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    1. LL Cool Joe: I am so glad that your brother survived. Your mother's influence has a long reach over a long time period. You, your brother, your father... Hugs.

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  11. So sad!! Suicide is a permanent answer to what may be a temporary problem.

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    1. fishducky: Sometimes I can accept it as a solution, but for temporary problems? No.

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  12. Bless you and thank you for taking us along! I have known two people in my life who committed suicide. They suffered with deep depression but none of us realized how close they were to taking their own lives. If only we were more aware but at a young age had no clue.

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    1. DeniseinVA: Some people are very, very skilled at concealing just how desperate they are feeling. For a variety of reasons. Sad and bad.

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  13. I am both glad and sad to read this. Glad there are places people in peril can call, and sad for those who never make that call. Keep up your good work and never ever doubt its importance.

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    1. Anne in the kitchen: Thank you. It is something I am passionate about, and I hope to continue on the phones for a long time yet.

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  14. I've known a few people who have committed suicide and so have seen some of the ripple effects you mention. Thanks for doing this important work and sharing it here.

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    1. e: Those ripples can feel like a tsunami can't they?

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  15. What a grim morning and a rather grim subject. I am pleased suicide is being talked about a lot more and not so hidden by the media. That was quite a decent walk, especially with you carrying the weight of your readers with you. Thank you.

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    1. Andrew: And here I was thinking it was my own girth I was dragging round. I too am very pleased that suicide is no longer quite as hidden as it was. More work to do, but some good first steps.
      It was a long walk - followed by a walk into town to catch the bus.

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  16. Hello Sue. You were very determined and selfless to take that walk under duress. Well done, you, and all those who walked for this cause. I've never thought about suicide ever being okay. Now you've given me pause.

    Thank you for taking/sharing those wonderful photos. Brought a lump to my throat. Suicide stories are always so tragic.

    Denise

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    1. Denise Covey: Given our current euthenasia laws I can certainly understand and accept suicide as being the 'best' option in a limited number of circumstances. In other cases? No.
      There was no duress to the walk, despite the less than ideal conditions. A private commitment which I hope to continue to meet.

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  17. I didn't walk :(
    I completely forgot this day was even coming.
    I know about RUOK day and will ask several people, but I was sound asleep instead of walking.

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    1. River: You do a lot in your day to day life. Walking is only a symbol.

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  18. I admire and respect you for your work in this effort.
    R

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    1. Rick Watson: Thank you. There are lots of us, which is lovely.

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  19. Thank you so much for the work you do and for going on the walk despite the difficulty you have. Your photos are very moving.

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    1. Sue in Italia/In the Land of Cancer: Thank you. It was an emotional start to the day.

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  20. Bless your heart and your feet for doing this good work. The young are so vulnerable and often see no answer to the harshness that life often brings. Your work and those of your colleagues make a difference to many with little hope.

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    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: I hope we can make a difference, and wish we could do more.

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  21. Incredible work. A walk from darkness into light is symbolic and surely must be enlightening and encouraging. The photo that really moved me to tears was the one of the empty seats.

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    1. jabblog: Welcome. The empty chairs was an addition this year. I suspect the rain concealed wet faces other than my own.

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  22. deepest appreciation for everything you do.

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  23. Dear EC
    Congratulations on completing the walk to publicise this tragic subject, but one which needs to be discussed more. I was affected more by the suicide of a young person (aged 15)I knew than I was by the death of my father at the grand age of 90, due to Alzheimer's. The suicide still affects me three years later.
    Thank you for all you, and people like you, do to help others who are contemplating suicide.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Ellie Foster: I am so sorry. I hope you can find help in ways to manage that pain.

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  24. My life has been touched by suicide several times. The work you and your colleagues do is invaluable. In each case I wasn't around to ask how ru, but now I ask myself constantly how they'd be if they were still alive. In each case, to me, life was a realistic option had they sought help and given themselves another chance. I thank you for the being there to talk to those who need a listener. May those you speak to see the dawn.

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    1. Myrna R.: We too hope that those we speak to can see the dawn. And many more dawns. Sometimes not an easy journey, but there are people ready to help.

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  25. When I was a kid, suicide wasn't even an option, but my boys have already witnessed several of their friends complete suicide. SO SAD...We need to let them know there are OTHER options. I know how it feels to be inside that BLACK hole, but we can get out!

    xxxx love to you, S, for your volunteerism and voice.

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    1. My Inner Chick: Your black hole would have defeated many, and I am in awe that you found your way out - and lend a hand to help others out of the depths of despair. Thank you so much for all that you do. Hugs.

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  26. I am in awe of you - your dedication, perseverance, determination to help in spite of your own health issues. It is such a hard subject to deal with. Most people don't have the strength to reach out past their own inner maelstrom to grapple with another's. You will always be a hero in my book. I'm glad you got to walk and hope you don't pay the price for too long. :)

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    1. River Fairchild: Thank you. I don't feel at all heroic. I spend time in the dark places myself. Yes, I will pay for the walk but on my pain/gain equation it still comes out on the right side of the ledger.

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  27. Thank God there is someone to talk to for those in such desperate straits.

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    1. only slightly confused: I am so grateful that a minister had the idea to begin Lifeline, and that so many continue his work. I wish that there wasn't a need for it - but there is.

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  28. You are a beautiful soul. Thank you for making this world a better place.

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    1. Sonya Ann: Thank you. I am one of a crowd.

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  29. Such a powerful post. Thank you, EC.
    Suicide is a devastating loss. I do accept it in some cases - like a terminal illness, for example - but when a young man kills himself because 'nobody understands him', it's such a stupid tragedy.
    I know a family where a son killed himself when he was 16. It happened about 20 years ago, and it took them a very long time to recover. Years. Maybe they never have completely.

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    1. Olga Godim: Thank you. I believe that the pain is a part of them now. Something to live with, and not something they will ever recover from. A new, and sadder reality. Which affects way too many of us.

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  30. You are amazing. Bless you for the work that you do. I have lost so many people to suicide. I don't understand how it can keep getting worse and worse--and yet, there are days....

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    1. Kathleen Valentine: Thank you. I am so sorry for your losses. Sadly I have learnt that if someone close to you suicides the risk of someone taking the same step increases exponentially. And I firmly believe that keeping things in the dark allows them to fester and grow.

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  31. What a moving post, truly. Thank you.... for being you, and for the work you do. It sounds corny, but I mean it.

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    1. Paper Chipmunk (aka Ellen): Thank you. So much.

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  32. You are amazing, it's not easy to find such dedicate people as you. Good work!

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    1. Saucy Siciliana: Welcome and thank you. There are a lot of us about. Australia and world wide.

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  33. Thank you for your efforts and opening our eyes.
    Have taken this to FB

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  34. Yes, tears from the sky. I think that is very fitting. Thank you for raising awareness on this too often silent subject. You and all the Lifeline team do an amazing job. Thankyou.

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    1. CountryMum: Inconvenient as it was, I thought it was entirely appropriate that the sky wept.

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  35. In our old group of uni friends, one was tragically lost to suicide. He was 24. Back then I wrongly thought that his suicide would serve as some sort of warning to the rest of us. We were meant to stay connected, stay open, stay vigilant, etc. I thought that we would, sort of, police each other, if you will. It was only many years later, when another friend from the old gang took his life, that I realised suicide was insidious. It separates the suffering from those who could potentially help. Thank you for the work that you do, E.C. xx

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    1. Bea: Depression, and anxiety are skilled and practised liars. Teamed with the stigma that admitting to them still often carries they are dangerous.

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    2. You worded this perfectly, especially "skilled and practiced liars," EC. I may borrow this and am filing it.

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  36. I admire you for you dedication to this cause. People who have never thought of suicide have no idea the pain involved in even just thinking about it!!!

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    1. Bookie: I don't think I know anyone who doesn't have dark periods. Dark periods which can be dangerous if we ignore them, or feel unable to ask for help.

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  37. This is such a moving event, with such symboism. Kudos to you for walking despite your health. That can't be an easy thing. It's good to see society opening up this subject for discussion and help. Too many people are ashamed or feel they will be stigmatized if they talk about how they feel. Well done, EC.

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    1. jenny_o: Thank you. It is an incredibly moving event, and I hope the word gets out. There is help. It isn't an easy journey, it might not be quick, but there is support. I think the stigma is lessening, but sadly it is still with us.

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  38. A complex, emotional subject/problem....so many layers; so many causes.

    Lifeline does good...reaching out....assisting and helping...

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    1. Lee: It is indeed complex. With no simple answers. And certainly no one size fits all answers...

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  39. You expressed it all so eloquently and sensitively - through your words and photos. Someday, I hope to give you a huge, warm in-person hug. Until then virtual love, admiration, and appreciation.

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    1. Rawknrobyn: Someday. And hugs to you. And mirrored love, admiration and appreciation.

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  40. A wonderful post and you put into words something that others fail to understand fully.
    A member of my son-in-law's family took his own life. He had a successful business, a wonderful family and yet obviously there was something he perhaps couldn't explain to anyone. He was actually thoughtful in the way he took his own life not wanting the event to look too unpleasant for them. Not having ever contemplated taking my own life, even when sometimes things get a little top heavy, I find it impossible to understand how and there I feel lies the problem. Those of us that don't have the tendency find it difficult to see when others do.
    I think you are so brave taking that walk and hope, as a result of it, you are not suffering more pain.
    You truly are a champion.

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    1. Mimsie: Thank you. The pain is here - but it is only a fraction of the pain that others feel. I am glad that suicide has never entered your mind, and hope it never does.

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  41. Hi EC - yes I agree suicide is such a sad way to end a life ... and for a youngster particularly ... just desperate. It's brushed my life - not mine thankfully ... but near enough to be tragic.

    So glad the walk was held "Out of the Shadows into the Light" - such a good title for the Walk ... with thoughts - and the imagery of the empty chairs ....... desolation for many: the lost and their families.

    With thoughts - Hilary

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    1. Hilary Melton-Butcher: Thank you. It is a wonderful title isn't it? And something which too many people have been touched by.

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  42. HI Sue This is a veery powerful moving post and I THANK YOU and the many others who give up their time to talk to desperate people who think there is no hope for them hereon earth. Many have been lost to suicide but MANy more has been brought back from the brink thanks to the patient listening ear of the volunteers working for that organisation. Your photos tell a heavy story.

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    1. Margaret Adamson: Thank you. I hope that the numbers are weighted towards life, but sometimes I wonder.

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  43. WE participated in a similar event this year for the first time. I'm ashamed to say that groups like flew under my radar until I was forcibly enlightened by the suicide of one of my 'sons' just a year ago. One of the brightest, sweetest people you will ever meet. I walk for him. And for all of the other sons and daughters out there.

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    1. Diane Tolley: I am so sorry to hear that your radar was alerted in such a tragic way. And glad that you walk for him and for the others...

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  44. I'm so glad you could participate in this. The more solidarity we can show with sufferers of mental illness and survivors of suicide, the better the chances are of reducing regrettable deaths.

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    1. John Wiswell: I am glad I went too. Still tired, still in pain, and very glad I met my commitment. We do need to show solidarity. And empathy.

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  45. You are such a life giver, Sue.
    Your words have been balm and light to me so many times. I appreciate the way you share that gift
    with people in crisis and dark places.
    Wishing you a whole universe of light,
    Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer Richardson: Thank you so much. I spend time in the dark places myself, and am always grateful to know that the light still shines. Somewhere. Hugs.

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  46. It's so lovely that you do that walk every year. And I watch someone I work with struggle and wish I could do something. All you can do is keep asking that question - are you OK? I wish more people would talk when they aren't.

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    1. Lynn: I suspect/I hope that keeping asking that question helps. Do you have a human resources section who could help further?

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  47. Those empty seats was the most moving image for me.

    What you do at Lifeline is so important. As someone who has worked for a crisis hotline I recognize this need, and at the same time feel the helplessness we sometimes (often?) experience at the other end of the line. Indeed, are you OK? is such an important question, and I only hope that it is always asked sincerely with the readiness to listen emphatically. It's not easy.
    I'm giving you a hug across the vast ocean for what you do - at Lifeline and today at the walk.

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    1. Carola Bartz: Hugs gratefully accepted and returned. The empty chairs were very, very moving weren't they. I hope they continue at future walks. Are you ok is such a simple, and powerful question isn't it? And listening is always the key.

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  48. The symbolism of the walk into dawn, the empty chairs and the tears from the sky are incredibly moving EC. Thank you for all you, and others, do to help people understand their options

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    1. Kim: Thank you. It is a very, very moving morning. And a cause I support wholeheartedly.

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  49. A great post E C. Posted by a nice person.

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