Beech­worth pair ad­vances aware­ness

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - BY CORAL COOKSLEY

LIFT­ING the lid on men­tal health and sui­cide pre­ven­tion is at the heart of on­go­ing aware­ness cam­paigns for two lo­cal res­i­dents in Beech­worth.

Sui­cide sur­vivor Liz Archer re­cently helped raise aware­ness dur­ing Men­tal Health Week as part of her work at Beech­worth Phar­macy.

Ms Archer said she was able to help oth­ers through her own ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with se­vere de­pres­sion.

She said there should be no stigma at­tached to those who suf­fer from what can be a com­mon con­di­tion.

“It shouldn’t be looked at in a neg­a­tive way as it is no dif­fer­ent to hav­ing some­thing like di­a­betes,” Ms Archer said.

“It’s some­thing you can’t con­trol, and peo­ple ( af­fected by it) need some­one to lis­ten to them.”

She said peo­ple could look happy on the out­side by put­ting on a good front.

“Think­ing past your­self and re­mem­ber­ing your fam­ily is so im­por­tant as sui­cide leaves mas­sive de­struc­tion for them,” she said.

Ms Archer said the first step to re­cov­ery was to ac­knowl­edge “I’m not okay” and seek help – al­though such a step can be dif­fi­cult to take.

“Some­times a prob­lem shared is a prob­lem solved or at least half solved,” she said.

Ms Archer said that she was al­ways avail­able with all phar­macy staff to lis­ten to peo­ple who needed help and to point them in to other care ser­vices.

Among those are Be­yond Blue and Life­line.

Beech­worth’s Lisa Car­tledge, who lost her hus­band, Sean, her fa­ther and an un­cle to sui­cide, is on a mis­sion to raise sui­cide aware­ness when she walks from Beech­worth to Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge – or ‘B2B’ – at the end of March next year.

The 700-kilo­me­tre walk across four weeks, with con­ver­sa­tions along the way, will help raise funds for re­search and pre­ven­tion.

“We need to start re­mov­ing the stigma at­tached to men­tal health and sui­cide to let peo­ple know that it’s okay to say ‘I’m not ok’,” Lisa said.

“The prob­lem is no­body can ‘see’ men­tal health.”

Lisa said she be­lieved that stigma sur­rounded men­tal health and sui­cide be­cause deep de­pres­sion is mis­un­der­stood.

“It makes so­ci­ety in gen­eral feel un­com­fort­able with the un­for­tu­nate mis­con­cep­tion that peo­ple who take their own lives made a ‘choice’,” she said.

“For me it’s about my kids, our fam­ily and friends be­ing al­lowed to re­mem­ber Sean with­out the un­com­fort­able si­lence and loss of eye con­tact – ‘the ele­phant in the room’.”

Lisa’s walk – sup­ported by fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of or­gan­i­sa­tions around the town – in­cludes a fundraiser with sparkle and glitz.

The ‘Great Gatsby Night’ is be­ing held at the Old Pri­ory in Beech­worth on Novem­ber 25.

“the sup­port re­ceived has been awe­some,” Lisa said.

She said that the B2B team wel­comed walk­ers or any­one who wanted to help to join them.

Funds raised are des­tined for char­i­ties such as Be­yond Blue.

Lisa and one of her sons, Tom, are tack­ling the Kokoda Trail from this week un­til mid-Novem­ber as part of B2B walk train­ing.

“This has been in credit since April 2014 as Sean and I were due to do it to­gether,” she said.

Lisa said it was im­por­tant for peo­ple suf­fer­ing de­pres­sion to talk to loved ones, friends, doc­tors or call sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Life­line, Headspace or Be­yond Blue.

Sta­tis­tics show that about 3000 Aus­tralians die from sui­cide ev­ery year.

It is es­ti­mated to be one of the lead­ing causes of death among Aus­tralians aged 15 to 44.

It is also be­lieved that up to 90,000 peo­ple at­tempt to take their own lives ev­ery year.

OPEN­NESS: Beech­worth Phar­macy’s Liz Archer (right), helped by Ker­rie Klip­pel, raised men­tal health and sui­cide pre­ven­tion aware­ness dur­ing Men­tal Health Week by pro­mot­ing sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Be­yond Blue and dis­tribut­ing in­for­ma­tion to help peo­ple who suf­fer de­pres­sion.

AWARE­NESS WALK: Beech­worth’s Lisa Car­tledge, who lost her hus­band Sean (above) to sui­cide in 2014, is on a mis­sion to raise aware­ness and funds for re­search and pre­ven­tion.

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