LIFELINE Tasmania’s annual Out of the Shadows Walk went virtual in a show of support for those bereaved by suicide and those who are struggling with their own mental health.
Every year, Lifeline centres across the nation bring communities together on World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September through local community walks that traditionally take place at sunrise.
Usually held at the Botanical Gardens, the event in Tasmania went online, with people invited to walk within their community to show their support.
Walks were held in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions in Tasmania.
“Out of the Shadows helps create a safe space for people to come together who have lost someone to suicide and wish to remember them and honour them,” Lifeline Tasmania chief executive officer Debbie Evans (pictured) said.
“It was also a chance for us to reduce stigma around suicide and bring suicide out of the shadows and into the light.
“The support and commitment by the community to 2020 Out of the Shadows was heart warming – we received countless emails and social media tags from individuals and groups of people who safely walked in their own community.”
Lifeline Tasmanian also had a virtual garden on their Out of the Shadows website for people to plant a flower to remember a loved one they had lost to suicide.
Ms Evans said COVID-19 restrictions had heightened the need to demonstrate support and provide a safe space for those impacted by suicide to mourn and reflect.
“Losing a loved one to suicide is different to any other loss, the stigma surrounding suicide is still very real,” she said.
“Often those who are grieving or experiencing suicidal ideation can experience tremendous marginalisation.
“The COVID-19 restriction have increased social isolation, there are many left to grieve or struggle with their thoughts alone.”
In 2018, 3,046 people in Australia lost their lives to suicide, with 78 of them being in Tasmania.
“There are more than 10 million Australians who have been directly impacted by the loss of a family member, relative, friend, colleague or fellow student,” she said.
“There are many more who are struggling with their own mental wellbeing and it is particularly difficult with the uncertainty and change in routine that has been brought about by COVID.”
Ms Evans encouraged any person in Tasmania who was struggling to make a connection with someone they trust to reach out to Lifeline on 1800 98 44 34 between 8am and 8pm seven days a week.
“These are challenging times – it is ok not to be feeling okay,” she said.
“Connecting with others is key.
“If you, or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to connect with Lifeline Tasmania in the way you feel most comfortable.”
For crisis support, phone 13 11 14.
For more information, visit lifelinetasmania.org.au.