A three-week suicide prevention walk spanning the 700 kilometres between Beechworth and Sydney Harbour is due to visit Junee on Saturday, April 7.
Beechworth to Bridge organiser Lisa Cartledge said the idea for the walk, which is all about reducing the stigma surrounding suicide, came from her own experience of losing loved ones to depression.
“I lost my uncle to suicide in the early 70s, and all that I knew what that uncle wasn’t coming home – nobody really said how or why,” Ms Cartledge said.
“Then, in 1986, I lost my dad to suicide just before my 18th birthday, and I spent the next 30 years being very aware of the elephant in the room and the awkwardness of other people when you said your father died by suicide.
“In 2014, my husband took his life very unexpectedly, and I thought ‘my kids are not going to live with the elephant in the room’ and not being able to say their dad’s name without other people becoming uncomfortable.”
Ms Cartledge said she’s hoping to talk with as many people as possible during her stop in Junee and for the rest of their walk.
“We’re not counsellors, we’re just people with lived experience, and we’re just happy to listen and talk to anybody who wants to meet with us,” she said.
“I had an elderly lady come up to me on Saturday and say her husband died 40 years ago from suicide but she had never been able to talk about him until now.”
Ms Cartledge and her walkers will arrive at Laurie Day Oval on Saturday, and will be in Junee all day walking and talking to people about their experiences with mental health and suicide.