Remembering loved ones

It was a simple stroll around Rosalind Park, but for hundreds of people at the Suicide Prevention Awareness Network walk on Sunday it was an emotional roller coaster.

Leanne Kettlewell from Bendigo and her sister Jenny Harvey from Gisborne walked in memory of Jenny’s daughter, who died by suicide six months ago.

With feelings still raw, the emotion of the day was overwhelming for Leanne.

“Our partners, parents and children are here and have all been affected by it,” she said.

“There is still pieces of anger, helplessness, sadness and regret. Anger because I couldn't help them.”

Leanne’s husband also took his own life 13 years ago when support networks weren’t as common.

“I ended up getting involved in Stand By Response Service and SPAN while studying community services to get the word out there,” she said.

“Communicating is the biggest thing. I wished I knew my niece was having a hard time.

“I wrote her on Facebook, ‘Are you okay’, but I'm angry at myself I didn’t ring her. I wished I had rung her rather than just saying, ‘are you okay?’

Communicating is the biggest thing. I wished I knew my niece was having a hard time.

Leanne Kettlewell

“But I've learned not to be angry because I loved her so much and she was living with pain and psychological problems.”

SPAN committee member Alannah McGregor helped found the SPAN walk six years ago.

“My son and daughter both died by suicide and I've done a lot of personal counselling,” she said.

“This is a time to use my experience to help other people but also something I can do that makes me feel like my kids' deaths weren't in vain.

“I can remember them in a nice way rather than with sadness.”

Castlemaine doctor Richard May and Lifeline chief executive Peter Shmigal also spoke on the importance of communication.

After the walk, patrons pinned decorative butterflies on a net to remember family and friends who have passed away.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health difficulties, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.