SPAN remembrance walk returns in 2017 to commemorate those who have died by suicide

It is five years since the first Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network walk worked its way through the streets of Bendigo, but the event’s power to heal remains potent, its organiser has said.

SPAN vice-president Alannah McGregor will again lead the remembrance walk on Sunday in honour of her children, Stuart and Angela, who both took their own lives. 

She will be joined by people who have travelled from as far as Sydney to take part.

Members of the original SPAN movement in Geelong will also travel to Bendigo for 2017 walk. 

WINGSPAN: Cut out this butterfly and inscribe a message for someone who took their own life. Butterflies will be pinned to a net of remembrance. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

WINGSPAN: Cut out this butterfly and inscribe a message for someone who took their own life. Butterflies will be pinned to a net of remembrance. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“It's not a particular group of people,” Ms McGregor said when asked who suicide affected most. 

“There'll be people who have lost someone close to them, who come each year, and a lot of them feel its a poignant way to honour someone. 

“There's also a lot of people who come along year after year to support other bereaved families, people who might be on the periphery of the loss.

“Onions have layers: school friends, friends of friends. You're looking at quite a large network.”

While impossible to quantify, Ms McGregor said she aware of the change SPAN was making in the community; she was visited at every march by at least one person who said the organisation had made a potentially life-saving contribution to their life. 

Asked how she maintained her commitment to SPAN while dealing with her own grief, Ms McGregor said she felt it her responsibility to make sure others did not have to experience the same pain she and her family endured.

The walk leaves from the Dai Gum San Chinese precinct at 11am on Sunday and participants are encouraged to inscribe a message to their lost loved on on a butterfly cut-out, which can then be pinned to a net of remembrance at the event’s close. 

Mayor Margaret O’Rourke and Castlemaine GP Dr Richard Mayes will address the crowd, and a cavalcade of Ride4Life motorcyclists will lead out the walk.  

If you are or someone you know is contemplating suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

In an emergency, dial 000.