CASTLEMAINE resident Camilo Demarco has a wonderful support network.
Even with all the “positive scaffolding” in place, he has found the 18-or-so months since his partner passed away “incredibly hard”.
“So I often think about people who don’t have those things in place and have all the benefits I have had, how they manage to get through this,” Camilo said.
He will be among a number of people bereaved by suicide to speak at a gathering in Castlemaine on Sunday, which is World Suicide Prevention Day.
“I feel it’s an issue that needs to get out into the community and be more open,” Camilo said.
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By bringing people together, he was hopeful they would see they were not alone in any suffering they had endured, and there was help available.
“If they can see the public is supportive and open to this dialogue, it might lead to more people seeking help before it’s too late,” Camilo said.
He believed greater awareness and promotion of mental health first aid training was needed to help people understand what’s okay to say and what’s not in the event of a death by suicide.
“It takes it out from being a taboo subject and makes conversations around suicide and death in general more open and less hidden,” Camilo said.
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Sunday’s function is also the official launch of the ELM Network, Every Life Matters, of which Camilo is the incoming chair.
The group was formed late last year to raise awareness and understanding of suicide and suicide prevention and boost community support, especially for people bereaved by suicide.
The Mount Alexander Shire Council has committed to review and respond to a national suicide prevention framework, which is under development, in response to a petition.
The ELM Network called on the shire to recognise the need for a proactive, whole-of-community response to suicide by including it in the council plan.
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Event to promote hope, resilience
A TREE will be at the centre of the ELM Network community gathering on World Suicide Prevention Day.
Attendees will be able to write on leaves they can then attach to the sculpture.
ELM Network co-facilitator Sarah Day said people might want to pen an acknowledgement, a name or a drawing.
In addition to the artwork and presentations, Ms Day said there would be live music performances.
“It’s really meant to be a community gathering for people to come together to say this is a community issue and we need to have a community response,” she said.
Information about resources for people who might be struggling will be available on the day.
Ms Day said suicide had a big ripple effect.
“By coming together as a community, we can try to counteract some of that negative effect and just be there to support one another,” she said.
The community event will run from 11am – 2pm on Sunday at the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, near the Tea Rooms.
Both the Mount Alexander Shire and Castlemaine District Community House have financially supported the day.
If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. In an emergency, phone 000.