Out of the Shadows suicide awareness walk captures the need to listen to our loved ones

 INSPIRATION: Keynote speaker Sharon Jones and event MC Giovanna Simpson at the 2018 Out of the Shadows suicide awareness walk. Picture: Lachlan Bennett

INSPIRATION: Keynote speaker Sharon Jones and event MC Giovanna Simpson at the 2018 Out of the Shadows suicide awareness walk. Picture: Lachlan Bennett

A column of candlelight snaked through Burnie on Friday night as Coasters took the time to remember those they’d lost to suicide and support their loved ones.

Cars halted as hundreds of people shrouded in an incandescent glow walked from Burnie Park, across the Bass Highway and to West Beach.

This annual ritual is known as the Out of the Shadows suicide awareness walk and it’s defined not by grief, but love, hope and reflection.

The event featured musical tributes, a reflection poem, support services and inspirational speeches.

Sharon Jones of Mole Creek shared her experience of growing up in outback Queensland while grappling with her gender and sexuality.

“I was suicidal by the age of 12,” she said.

“My first cry for help to my parents wasn’t listen to and I came back from it thinking I would never talk about it again.”

But Sharon did talk about it again and finally emerged as a stronger person.

“In 2016, after 30-odd years of battling with suicide, I’m free and I never expected to get there,” she said.

With the right support, the right help and learning to reach out, I think we can all turn our lives around.

Sharon Jones

Melissa Lubke also shared her experience of grief through her art installation Lachrymatory.

The installation consisted of a booth with teardrop light bulbs where viewers can process their emotions and write a personal message to a loved one.

“It’s kind of my interpretation of how I process my grief,” Mrs Lubke said.

“In the process of writing you actually engage something deep in your heart … but also I want them to realise they are not alone.”

Takesha Wells was among the crowd of people who attended the Out of the Shadows suicide awareness walk.

“I’ve had a lot of people bail out on me over the years,” she said.

“I don’t like the feeling of someone taking their own life. I like to raise awareness and if that means walking in the cold, that’s what I’d like to do.”

For 24/7 support, contact:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14

  • Beyondblue 1300 224 636

  • Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467

  • Emergency Services 000 (Triple Zero)

  • MensLine 1300 789 978

  • Kids Helpline 1800 551 800