Mak­ing dif­fer­ence

2000 km trek to raise aware­ness of high sui­cide num­bers

Seymour Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Gus McCub­bing

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.

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