Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Out of the Shadows 2020

Today, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the start of World Suicide Prevention Week.  I spend time in the dark places myself and know both how fast and easy the plummet to the bottom can be and how very hard it is to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel much less climb out again. 

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.  Without question Covid 19 is going to increase those numbers, across all age groups and without regard to gender, or sexuality.  

I don't think that all suicide is wrong, particularly given our euthanasia laws.  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.  Right or 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.  In addition there is strong evidence that if someone close to you dies by suicide your own chances of taking that path are dramatically increased.

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 additional 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.  Some centres start their walk later (ten or eleven) to attract more people and publicity.  I can see why, but am glad that our walks start in the dark.


 Restrictions caused by Covid 19 meant that the walk was in doubt this year.  Which worried me.  I have made a private commitment (after missing the first) that I would attend all the subsequent walks.  However, at almost the last moment, it was decided that the walk would go ahead in Canberra again this year.  Physically distanced, but emotionally joined.

Which saw me heading off again before dawn this morning.  The issue is much more important than I am.    So I walked.  Slowly just as I do every year.  Stopping to take photos.

There were brief speeches.  Some of the names and ages of those lost were read out - which I find moving.  No longer nameless, but identified and missed...  This morning the ages ranged from 16 to 72.  One person was identified only as forever young which made me think 'They will not grow old, as we that are left grow old'.  There was also an acknowledgement that there are names we do not know, which doesn't diminish their loss.

A musician played a song 'Treading Water' which had particular significance for him, and which made many eyes leak.  His friend had identified this song as his favourite on the album, and died by suicide in the studio in which it was recorded.


Come walk with me, through the cool dawn, into the hopeful light of a new day.


At home - just before I headed off. 
 




I liked the moon, shining through the clouds reminding us that there was still light - and that our glasses were half full rather than empty.
 




You will notice that masks were rarely worn.  Hand sanitiser was used, and contact details for everyone was recorded.  My city has had no cases of Covid 19 for close to two months and a level of complacency has crept in.
 











 It was, as it always is, an emotionally charged walk.  Tears were shed, but there was also laughter.
 





RU OK day (September 14) is also celebrated in World Suicide Prevention Week.  A  simple question we should be asking family, friends and colleagues every day.




Some services and links which may be useful for Australian readers include:

Lifeline 1311 14

Suicide Call Back Service

I am putting up this post later than I would have liked and apologise, but I went on to do a shift on the crisis line after the walk.

Stay well, stay safe. 

123 comments:

  1. I love the theme and love, love the photos!

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  2. Thank you for taking us along. My birthday fundraiser this year was to benefit a suicide prevention hotline. It did rather well, but a lot of my friends were rocked by a suicide right before Christmas. Not even 2020 has been able to shake that sense of shock.

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    1. Lisa: I love that you put your birthday fundraiser to such a good use. Thank you. Suicide is a particularly vicious shock for too many people. I don't think we ever get over it - we learn to live with it (mostly).

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  3. Great work is done by lifeline those paid and volunteers.
    Pleased the walk was able to take place..
    Take care.

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    1. Margaret D: Thank you. I am very, very glad that the walk took place too.

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  4. The pictures looks amazing and happy finding your post

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  5. Wonderful captures, amazing walk. Covid scares me so much, especially now, when Fall comes abd flu season will be here in a minute! Stay safe and healthy everyone!

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    1. Natalia: Thank you. I think Covid scares many of us. And so it should.
      Stay well, stay safe.

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  6. "The symbolism of starting the walk in the dark and progressing into the light of a new day means a lot to me." If the walk is supposed to symbolize dark to light, that's the way to do it.

    "a level of complacency has crept in." How ironic being the the group that you are.

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    1. Mike: Yes. That is exactly why I appreciate that my centre still starts its walks before dawn.
      To be fair on the mask front, they were never compulsory is my city and the recommendations were never consistent.
      While Lifeline organises the walks, many of the people who attend are not connected with the organisation. Given that mask wearing is not compulsory here it would have been difficult for LL to insist on them.

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  7. Hugs to you for what you do--

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    1. Bill: Thank you. I get an immense amount from all my volunteer work.

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  8. Huge respect to you for doing this (and for the crisis line volunteering too). It is such an important issue and awareness is vital. Thank you for sharing the experience.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Ellie Foster: Thank you. We are always busy, but the call numbers have gone up exponentially this year - starting before the year was underway even with the bushfires which ravaged my country, then a freak and damaging hailstorm then Covid 19. I am very, very glad that we are starting to talk more about suicide. Steps have been made, strides are needed.

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  9. My eyes are a little leaky after reading your what you wrote. It was nice see the progression of it becoming light in your city. It is hard believe the despair people must feel to commit such an act. As I mentioned recently, suicide numbers in my state have not risen this year but I wonder if there has been some substitution in the figures. That is some have suicided for COVID reasons, but other suicides are down.

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    1. Oh yes, and thanks for making the effort.

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    2. Andrew: Suicide figures often take time to collate. I would (unfortunately) be very surprised if your overall numbers have gone down.
      I was, and am, very glad to have joined the walk again, but I am a tired puppy this evening.

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  10. Hi EC - thank you for this reminder ... suicide has increased here. At least we are starting to talk about suicide and our organisations are available to help those who reach out, and those who encourage others to reach out ...

    Distance and remoteness in our communities don't help - it'd be wonderful if we can all become more open and accept others' frailties and understand that we all have weaknesses ... but that they don't need to be exploited. We need to understand more and appreciate that underlying the 'I'm fine ...' very possibly they're not - perhaps we all need to 'read body language and ways of expression better' and have more time for others in our way of life.

    Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts - very pertinent in this day and age ... all the best to you and thank you for the wonderful work you do ... small you may feel - but essential for your city ... take care and stay safe - Hilary

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    1. Hilary Melton-Butcher: I suspect suicide has increased the world over - and will continue to do so in the coming months/years.
      You are right - it is wonderful that we are (finally) starting to talk more about suicide. I believe that things hidden in the dark have a tendency to fester and grow. You are also very right that we need to put aside judgements in favour of acceptance.
      Thank you (as always) for your thoughtful comment. Stay well and stay safe please.

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  11. Beautiful post. Grandson was sent home yesterday as there was a positive test for covid in his school. This means we are also in isolation as we only see them all once a week ans even that is not now possible. It is so good to know that there are folks out there who care, my prayers are with all depresseves including myself.
    Thank you for all the photos included in the post, makes it more real for me.
    Xx

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    1. Christine: Thank you. I hope that your grandson and all of his family are safe. There are a lot of people who care, in a lot of different areas. Sadly they get less publicity than the others.

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  12. (((Hugs for you EC))) and all those who care.

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    1. Cathy: Thank you. There are a lot of people who care. World wide.

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  13. Buena labor estás haciendo. a pesar de que estamos en unos momentos difíciles, hay que afrontarlos de la mejor manera.
    El estar ocupado, en actividades, hace que no caigamos en esa tentación. para unos puede ser pintar leer, escuchar música y sobretodo ejercicio físico.

    Como en mi ciudad hace mucha calor, para caminar hace falta levantarse temprano, lo que suelo hacer es nada más que levantarme dedicarle un tiempo a pedalear en la bicicleta estática, mientras escucho música con ritmo y esto hace que tome el ejercicio con entusiasmo.

    Personas como tú, hace falta en el mundo. Sabes preocuparte por los demás.

    Que tengas un buen día y fortaleza para afrontarlo.

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    1. VENTANA DE FOTO: Thank you. It is early morning here now and the sun is just peeking over the horizon. Today will be quieter - though I hope to spend time in the garden.
      Stay safe, stay well.

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  14. I worked as a guidance counsellor in a high school and had some close calls with students. I could never volunteer on a crisis line. I wish I could walk with you though. Thank you for the work you do to help people in Australia, EC.

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    1. Marie Smith: You were a school guidance counsellor? That must have been hard and emotionally draining.
      I wish you (and a lot of other people) could walk with me but am very grateful for the virtual company. Many thanks.

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  15. Such a beautiful and heart reminding post.

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    1. Laurie: Thank you. And thank you for making your way through this post. I hope your eyes are still playing nicely.

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  16. I am now, Sue, and have been since I first learned of your involvement, profoundly moved by your commitment to others. Perhaps there are people in Canberra and beyond who are living happy, productive lives, who found the spark needed to carry on in that first telephone contact with you. It is a strange, barely comprehensible aspect of blogging that one can form true and meaningful friendships with people on the other side of the world one has never met. So it has been for you and me, I believe. I think of you every day when I look at the wonderful feather of the Sulphur-crested Uplifter you sent me, and it symbolizes all that is good and hopeful in this world. And some of that, thankfully, still remains. With love, David

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    1. David M. Gascoigne: Thank you. I have indeed found friends (and you are one of them) in the blogosphere. Very dear friends, many of whom I will never meet in the flesh.
      When I first started volunteering we took calls from Canberra and the local area. We now take calls Australia wide and sometimes from Australians in trouble overseas.
      There is indeed good and hope in the world. Which I need to remind myself.
      Hugs.

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  17. I know you down play it, but what you do is huge, EC. You literally save lives. Thanks for being a hero.
    Your pictures are moving and beautiful.
    Hugs

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    1. Sandra Cox: Thank you - and consider me downplaying. There are a lot of us and I am proud to be a member of the team.

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  18. Glad you were still able to do your walk. Outdoors, so much safer.
    Sadly, both depression and suicide have skyrocketed here, a result of both the virus and the lockdowns. People are lonely, uncertain, and many have lost jobs and businesses. Scary times.

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    1. Alex J. Cavanaugh: Scary times indeed. And yes, I was very, very glad to be able to walk yesterday. Symbolic - but packed with meaning for all of us.

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  19. I know that this walk is not easy for you but you do it anyway to bring attention to this cause. I, and all people who deal with depression, especially now, appreciate your care and activism.

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    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: Thank you. It isn't easy, but is more than worth it. I am so very grateful that I found somewhere where I can (I hope and believe) make a positive difference.

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  20. The symbolism of walking into the ligth is powerful. You're a hero. Thank you.

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    1. Charlotte (MotherOwl): It is a very powerful symbol isn't it? All praise to whoever thought of it and set it in motion. And thank you.

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  21. I agree with Charlotte, you are my hero for so many things you do especially sharing this walk with us. Thank you for all you do. Rest, take care of yourself and be safe my friend.

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    1. Mason Canyon: Thank you. Today will mostly be a quiet self care day, but I am so very glad that I walked (and volunteered) yesterday. You stay safe too please.

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  22. Physically distanced but emotionally joined - that is beautiful. 135 souls are touched by the loss of someone, that is a heartbreaking statistic. Thank you for the work you do. The lives you reach each and every day is nothing short of amazing xoxo We need more people like you!

    Warmly,
    Elsie

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    1. Elsie Amata: That figure of 135 people affected each and every time is frightening isn't it? Ripples which could turn into a tsunami...
      Ripples which I hope can be calmed.

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  23. Thank you for being the voice on the line talking to someone who needs to hear it. I love these pictures and know a few who have chosen to take their own lives. I honor them and the work done to give people another option.

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    1. DJan: Thank you. And thank you for honouring and remembering those whose pain was just too much to bear.

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  24. Two suicides have impacted my family. I know the pain it causes.
    Thank you so much for your dedication and work. You have my sincerest admiration.

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    1. Myrna R.: I am so sorry that you are personally acquainted with that deep pain. And thank you.

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  25. Thank you for sharing this EC. I am reminded of how close I was myself 35 years ago now, meticulously plotting the means and method. Only those who come close to ending their lives understand the terrible mental anguish and the release of solution when it presents itself.

    I admire your work, I've done some myself, even if it only sitting in silence on a hospital bed holding another's hand. Understanding in spirit when no words are necessary.

    We never know, you never know, how many you have diverted from this final solution.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. Wisewebwoman: I have also come close. I had a plan, I had the means, and I sincerely believed that the world would be a better place without me. Apathy saved me.
      You are so right that simply sitting with someone could indeed be the trigger to turn to the light. Many, many thanks for the work that you did, and for the work that you continue to do despite your own pain.

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  26. We are observing Suicide Prevention Week this week at Behavioral Health where I work.

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    1. Jamie Ghione: I am glad. And hope that the message spreads. And spreads.

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  27. What a great post and grand idea. I am way to familiar with suicide, sadly so. Thank you, for all you do on the crisis line and daily to bring awareness and compassion to these unnecessary tragedies.

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    1. Yolanda Renee: Yet another person who knows that pain. Thank you.

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  28. I very much enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Lon Anderson: It is my privilege and pleasure to share.

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  29. Impressed by what you are doing, I am bowing with respect.

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    1. Sean Jeating: Thank you. There are lots and lots of us, world wide. Which brings me comfort.

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  30. Thank you for sharing. I was glad to read that the walk was held, Covid precautions in place. x

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  31. A very good reason to get up early when it was still dark outside! Covid has made everything difficult hasn't it, but there's a way forward if we are careful. I'm so glad you could take part in the walk and meeting.
    Nice to know you haven't had any new infections for a couple of months, The numbers are going up here and now school is starting.

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    1. Shammickite: I am almost always up before dawn - but rarely out and about. It was a very good reason to head out, and I am so glad that I could.
      While we have had no new cases for quite a while (and no current cases) care is still required. Lots of care. I do hope your numbers can be brought under control.

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  32. I love the progression in your photos - it really brought home the theme of "into the light". My heart goes out to anyone walking through a dark place - kudos to you for being the guide that shows them a glimmer of light!

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    1. Diane Henders: How I hope that glimmer becomes a beacon.

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    1. Joanne Noragon: Thank you, but believe me I get an immense amount from my voluntary work. It is definitely a two way street.

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  34. Thank you for spreading the word, and for your work. Every life is sacred, i wish more people understood how loved and special they are. Perhaps it would change the world.

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    1. messymimi: I certainly don't feel special and I doubt that anyone who calls the crisis line does - or not in a positive way. You have given me something to think about. Thank you.

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  35. It is good work you do, EC. For that you are commended.

    Life can too often be dark, lonely and trouble-filled for many. And for some, the burdens become too much...too heavy to bear.

    Take good care. :)

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    1. Lee: Life is hard, dark, lonely and trouble filled for far too many people isn't it?

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  36. I think it is very commendable for you to do volunteer work with Lifeline Australia, the crisis telephone line.
    Preventing someone from committing suicide is not an easy job.
    Someone who is about to commit suicide is usually because his spirit is dead, hopeless, so depressed he chooses the path of suicide. For this reason, someone needs to have friends or friends just to share stories to lighten the burden on the heart.
    Salute for the human work you are doing
    Regards..

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    1. Justcherry: Thank you. Most of the people I have talked to want the pain (physical, mental or emotional) to stop and cannot see any other way. Which makes my heart ache.

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  37. I'm glad the walk went ahead, although perhaps masks should have been suggested. All the streets and footpaths looks so clean.

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    1. River: I am glad it went ahead. Masks are not widely worn here, and nor are they widely recommended except in a medical context or where people are vulnerable.
      Canberra is clean. Which is lovely.

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  38. I admire you so much for doing this work. I knew people who committed suicide and it still hurts me to think about them. One was a childhood friend who lost her husband, her child and her home. I will always feel guilty that I was not there to help her. Like you, I know that sometimes life is just too hard for some and the pain and lack of a future makes it inevitable. My friend, Joyce felt she had no choice and I don't condemn her or judge her. I am also a member of Compassion and Choices which works to get bills passed in the states to let us make our own choices about when to end our lives. Your post is touching and beautiful.

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    1. Glenda Beall: I would love to have bills passed here to give us those choices too. Some states have them, but my own territory has been denied the right to pass that legislation - which makes me sad and angry.
      Sometimes life is too hard, but every death by suicide is a tragedy (no matter how understandable).

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  39. You have touched a very important subject

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  40. The symbolism of this walk is heartwarming and powerful, thank you for sharing it again this year

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    1. Kim: Thank you. I hope to share it again next year. And the years after.

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  41. I like the symbolism of this walk out of the dark into the light. Your work is so important - from my own experience while working at a crisis hotline in Germany I know how important and literally life changing these conversations can be. I didn't know that suicide numbers in Australia are so high - I suspect it's even worse here. Thank you for the work that you do.

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    1. Carola Bartz: Our numbers are, I believe, trending to the upper levels of normal. And, as I said, I suspect they are under rather than over reported. Sad and bad.
      I am so glad to have found a way to share my feelings. Here - and on the walk itself.

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  42. You were up early for the walk and it is nice it started in the dark and into the light as the motto says. It is so sad that suicide is so common now. The world is in need of healing. So many people feel loneliness and despair and if they only realized that caring people like you are there to give them the hope and help they so desperately need. Prevention is worth a pound of cure. So many people are affected when someone commit suicide.

    Thanks for what you do. Take care, stay safe.
    Hugs, Julia

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    1. Julia: Thank you. Where suicide is concerned prevention is everything. There is no cure.

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  43. Desconocía que existía el "Día de prevención de suicidios". Una vez leído tu interesante artículo sobre el tema, y saber que colaboras en ello, tienes mi aplauso y agradecimiento por esa labor que llevas acabo de ayudar a personas hundidas en la desesperación ofreciéndoles consuelo, y el que se lo puedan pensar, para que puedan tener otra oportunidad de seguir viviendo. GRACIAS.
    Un fuerte abrazo.

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    1. Manuel: Thank you. I am sad that there is a need for this day - but there is.
      Stay well, stay safe.

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  44. I agree wholeheartedly that folks should have a choice in when it's their time to move on to their next cycle of life. People shouldn't have to suffer abhorrent deaths.
    Hugs

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    1. Sandra Cox: No arguments from me. I hope that we will move forward and allow people to die with dignity. Soon.

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  45. Knowing what it's like to feel suicidal and have been hospitalized because of an attempt, I can really empathize with people who are hurting so much they don't see any other way of making the pain go away.

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    1. Mary Kirkland: As I can - and thank you so much for your honest comment.

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  46. I just came to your blog from Travels with Birds. What a great post and a lovely idea starting the walk in darkness and moving into the light. Apart from friends and acquaintances I lost a nephew to suicide in Brisbane and a cousin in Chester, U.K. and often think of them. Thank you for your commitment. I have a stepdaughter near Bowral which is only a couple of hours from you I think.

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    1. Susan Heather: Welcome and thank you. Suicide is a scourge which marks too many families. I am sorry that you are familiar with the pain, the grief and the loss. And yes, Bowral (which is very pretty indeed) is quite close to me.

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    2. The whole Southern Highlands is lovely isn't it. I have never been to Canberra though but it looks delightful.

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    3. Susan Heather: There are lots and lots of beautiful areas here. For which I am grateful. Canberra has a bad reputation (more boring than ditchwater) but I am quite happy to let the myth prevail - less people.

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  47. Keep up the good work, Child. You are such an inspiration, sometimes, I wonder what you're doing, and how you're doing.

    I'm happy to hear of no covid cases for 2 months now.

    It's going up in Guyana, which is tragic, because people don't seem to care.

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    1. neena maiya (guyana gyal): It is lovely to see you here again. I think of you too - and hope your book is nearly ready for the world. I am sorry that Guyana is experiencing a rise in Covid 19. Very sorry.

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  48. I walked with you dear. This - 'Physically distanced, but emotionally joined.' is very much how many people with mental health problems will need the most help so it's a fitting phrase. The support you give is wonderful. Xx

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    1. Starshine Twinkletoes: You are able to comment!!! I do hope that means the blasted virus is receding from your body.
      I am very, very happy to walk with you. Any time.

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  49. Great Post, Great Work you're doing to aid in prevention. It is a Dark Space to hold indeed, been there, done that, hope to never feel that Hopeless and ambivalent again in this Lifetime. It did teach me that we all have breaking points and showed me what mine were. Oddly, most people who knew me just marveled I lasted as long as I had before giving up. It felt weird to survive it because nobody wanted to really talk about it candidly and some of the more 'religious' people I knew acted as tho' it was not something anyone of alleged 'Faith' would ever do... which just sounded naive to me, but in a way, I could understand how too many think it could never happen to THEM. I never thought it could happen to me, I was wrong... I was fortunate to get another chance to keep on living and keep on keeping on, I don't take that lightly even Years later. I think we need to have these conversation and make people realize it's Okay to not be Okay and to openly talk about it and seek intervention.

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    1. Bohemian: Welcome and thank you. Many of us are familiar with those dark and dangerous spaces. Spaces that can and do swallow too many people. I am glad that you got another chance, and that you remember.
      And a big YES to your final sentence. All of it.

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  50. It's so good you volunteer for such and important service! And how nice to have these walks! While I'd heard of the RUOK day and this week before I wasn't aware of the walks, it looks like a lovely way to remember people and spend time with others, even as you safely distanced.

    Hope you are having a lovely weekend :)

    Away From Blue

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    1. Mica: Thank you. Even here, the Out of the Shadows walk isn't widely publicised. I wish it was. How I wish it was.
      Stay safe, stay well.

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  51. Such an important organization! An acquaintance's 14-year-old killed herself recently and it breaks my heart.

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    1. Lady Fi: Fourteen? How heartbreaking that she was in such pain she could see no other solution. That is simply awful.

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  52. I wish I could have gone on that walk along with you. Stay safe, sane-ish, and keep a sense of peace. You truly make a difference in this world for others, both through the help you give on call, and the beauty of your spirit here online. You are a rock for me to lean on and I thank you always for that.

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    1. River Fairchild: You have so often been a rock for me. I am so glad that our paths crossed here. Sane(ish) is the best I can manage (while hunting for beauty and peace). Dragon hugs.

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  53. Such a truly important and vital place this is, and your service and all others there and around the world so crucial to the survival of so many. I just learned the other day of a family in-law to my daughter that was so far on the edge, but to the diligence and care of another she survived. Keep up this work and stay safe.

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    1. 21 Wits: I am so very glad to read about someone else who now has a new lease on life. And how I wish that the pain, the fear, the grief didn't swallow so many.

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  54. They originally thought my son had committed suicide but after the medical examiner saw him they realized it was accidental. Either way it was devastating to lose a child.

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    1. mxtodis123: I am so sorry. And yes, the pain you are enduring is HUGE.

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  55. Well done on completing the walk and I am so pleased it was able to go ahead.

    Suicide seems to be increasing worldwide, even more so now with Covid 19 and the different 'pressures' it puts on so many people.

    I appreciated all of the photographs you've shared.

    Stay safe and well.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Lowcarb team member: Thank you. Sadly suicide is increasing the world over, and the pandemic will be the trigger point for many more. Thank you - and I hope that you and your family can also stay safe and well.

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  56. You know that I've always appreciated your kindness and willingness to help those in need(the abused and those at risk for suicide), and I thank you for continuing to shine the light. This is a tough subject that I've only recently been able to talk about. I wish that more people paid attention to some of the advance warning signs, but the truth is that some people end their lives with no warning. My son knew of a classmate who was only 15 when he took his own life, and of course, the death of my mom was rough. It's just so sad that these numbers continue to increase because people are hurting. Sending hugs to you! RO

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    1. RO: Thank you. I know that this subject is way too close to home for you.
      A world wide tragedy. And yes, some people DO show little or no early warning signs - which I suspect comes about because our cultures encourage strength and wrongly flag asking for help as a weakness.
      Huge hugs to you.

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  57. I wish everyone much light in the start of each day. A loving and powerful post.

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    1. DeniseinVA: Thank you. I hope that everyone can stay in the light.

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