September 10 marks World Suicide Prevention Day — a global event that aims to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention while also trying to change the way suicide is discussed in the community.
Since 2012, Australia’s largest suicide prevention provider, Lifeline, has observed World Suicide Prevention Day by hosting community gatherings across the country that provide a safe place for people to come together. This event is called Out of the Shadows.
In previous years, local community walks have taken place at sunrise on September 10, allowing people to mourn loved ones lost to suicide and to reduce the stigma attached to suicide by bringing it out of the shadows and into the light.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Out of the Shadows will be held virtually this year, allowing you to connect with others via a digital medium.
“Losing a loved one to suicide is different to any other loss, the stigma surrounding suicide is still very real,” Lifeline Australia’s chairman, John Brogden, told medianet. “Often those who are grieving or experiencing suicidal ideation can experience tremendous marginalisation.
“The COVID-19 restrictions are exacerbating isolation, there are many left to grieve or struggle with their thoughts alone. Through Out of the Shadows, we aim to ensure that people feel connected and aware of the support and compassion that is around them.”
One way to get involved this year is by planting a flower in the Lifeline Virtual Garden. The garden is a place of remembrance and reflection and is always open for you to visit. “Here you can plant a flower, hold a personal silence, smile or shed a tear knowing you are amongst friends,” reads the Lifeline website.
Choose the type of flower you want and include a message of dedication should you wish. You’re also able to see the other flowers that have been planted and read the special messages attached.
Another way to participate in Out of the Shadows is through a virtual walk. Lifeline is encouraging members of the community to hold private reflective sunrise walks in accordance with COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. Register your walk and you’ll also be able to connect with the virtual community of walkers via Zoom.
“All through the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been encouraging the community to connect with those they think may be doing it tough,” Brogden said. “We all have the power to make a positive difference to the lives of others, so we really do encourage people to invite someone you know to take a walk at sunrise and remember the many Australians we have lost to suicide and those they have left behind.
“Together, we can remove the stigma around mental health, we can make people feel connected and supported and we can work towards an Australia free of suicide.”
Brogden encouraged anyone struggling to make a connection with someone you trust or reach out to Lifeline for help.
“These are challenging times, it is ok not to be feeling ok. Connecting with others is key. If you or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to connect with Lifeline in the way you feel most comfortable,” he said.
If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs support, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14, both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. You can also speak with someone confidentially at Headspace by calling 1800 650 890 or chat online here.