The Suicide Prevention Awareness Network (SPAN) in Geelong, Victoria, marked Australia Day 2106 with its annual Suicide Awareness Walk.
More than 500 people attended the walk, which has been held since 2010, was the brainchild of Lisa Castle – who lost her 17 year old son Shaun to suicide in January 2009. According to the SPAN website, SPAN was started after a spate of horrific suicides in Geelong and affected family members, concerned community members and health professionals decided to work together to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide.
It became the ideal avenue for Lisa to fulfill her vow that his death would not be in vain. Lisa’s plans for a community walk in honour of her son was able to come to fruition and is now held each Australia Day to signify the fact that it is a national problem.
SPAN believes that suicide awareness is everyone’s responsibility and is a subject that must be talked about openly and sensitively. The network aims to take a whole community approach to suicide prevention which combines the knowledge of lived experiences from those affected by suicide along with evidence-based information and knowledge from professionals working in the field.
The annual Suicide Awareness Walk provides an opportunity for people to come together and pay tribute to lost loved ones, offer support to those hurting and ultimately embrace the gift of life. SPAN says, the walk has evolved into a happy, family and community event which allows everyone directly or indirectly affected by suicide to offer their support to others.
A report by the Geelong Advertiser, attendees included bereaved father and suicide prevention campaigner, Kevin James, who is one of several service advocates to benefit from $37,000 of financial support from Bellarine and Otway district Freemason lodges.
Another attendee, Hannah Taylor, donated $17,000 toward starting a new suicide response network, which was raised at the annual “Jam For Same” in memory of her boyfriend Sam Keating.