2000 km trek to raise awareness of high suicide numbers
When her only child committed suicide last year, former Seymour resident Liane Drummond said her grief and desolation ended up taking her to the brink as well.
‘‘There aren’t words, really,’’ Liane said.
‘‘For a while I didn’t want to be here either — I just wanted to be with him.
‘‘But I decided that given I am here, what could I do to make a difference so that someone who is struggling could get better access to care and that a mother like me doesn’t have to experience the aftermath of a suicide?’’
Her son David, who attended Kilmore International School and Seymour College, suffered from ongoing mental health issues before taking his own life. He was just 28. Now the decision Liane made to keep going has evolved into an incredible 2000 km trek — and it’s still a work in progress.
She and partner Tony Drummond began the journey to raise awareness of mental health funding shortfalls and high suicide numbers.
Their journey started on October 9, exactly one year after David ended his life, and last week Liane and Tony returned to Seymour, spending a night with old friends — and her brother and his sons (David’s cousins, Oliver and Liam).
Coming back to the town where she nurtured her son as he grew into manhood proved much harder and more conflicting and confusing than she expected.
‘‘It was great to catch up with people and connections we’ve had for many years, but all the memories were there too — so there’s joy but also that sadness.’’
The walk, she said, was not a fundraising mechanism, but instead designed to raise awareness of the high suicide numbers in Australia and the funding disparity Liane sees between physical healthcare needs and mental healthcare needs.
‘‘Currently mental health accounts for 14 per cent of the burden of care in our health system but it gets just seven per cent of the funding,’’ she said.
‘‘I’ve worked in healthcare . . . so that was a shock to me. Mental healthcare is just in crisis really — the demand versus resources has got to shift for there to be any hope for those who are struggling with mental issues to get the kind of care they really need.’’
Starting from their current home in Chillingham, a small town near the border of NSW and Queensland, the pair has covered the first 2000 km but Liane said the plan now was to walk across the country for a year, before ending up at the steps of Parliament House in Canberra on World Mental Health Day, with their bus reflecting the suicide numbers along the way.
‘‘We’ve already done a couple of rounds with our state and federal members, and we’ll do another round before we go to Canberra,’’ she said.
‘‘What we ask people to do for us is to get on the Walk for Sunshine Facebook page and, if they’re comfortable with it, to like, share and follow it, so that when I do the third round I can show the politicians this is not just my voice — I can say that we know people want better mental health services.
‘‘It’s an election year next year, so let’s make it an election issue.’’
If you, or anyone you know, thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis, help is available. Phone Lifeline on 131 114.
Journey: Oliver Cobain, Liane and Tony Drummond, Bill Cobain, Liam Cobain and David’s golden retriever, Charlie.
In his memory: David with his dog, Charlie.