For the first time this year, a giant bejewelled butterfly will join Sunday's Bendigo Advertiser Gala Parade.
The butterfly is a symbol of both hope and the Suicide Prevention Awareness Network of central Victoria, who hope their participation in the parade - with its thousands-strong audience - will spread their message of suicide awareness and support even further.
It also provides an opportunity to promote the group's annual Suicide Awareness Walk, which this year has been moved from March to May to allow for the Easter parade.
While suicide is a harrowing matter, SPAN's Haylee Kennedy said the group wanted to create a more positive space in which people could make connections within their community, find support, and simply know there is help available.
"The butterfly's a beautiful way of bringing people together," Mrs Kennedy said.
The parade butterfly was built by Mrs Kennedy's husband and fellow SPAN member Shane, with the support of Bendigo TAFE and Fitzpatrick's Home Timber and Hardware, who provided space and materials.
Already, Mrs Kennedy said, the butterfly's presence at the TAFE campus had prompted questions from students, which opened up conversations around suicide.
She hopes this same thing will occur on Sunday when the butterfly makes its way along the parade route.
SPAN vice-chair and founder Alannah McGregor said it was important to spread information about support, because often when a person needed it they were not in the headspace to seek it out or use it.
But if a family member already had knowledge of how to help, support could be provided.
The rate of suicide in Victoria dropped from 2016 to 2017, but overall, Australia recorded one of its highest suicide rates ever.
The Suicide Awareness Walk will be held in Bendigo on Sunday, May 5, along with the Bendigo Ride4Life.
The walk is an opportunity to remember loved ones lost to suicide and to show support.
"It's not just for people bereaved by suicide, it's for the general community, and to show their support," Mrs McGregor said.
For more information, visit www.spancv.org.au.
The Bendigo Advertiser Gala Parade begins at 1pm tomorrow and proceeds along View Street, Pall Mall, McCrae Street and Bridge Street.
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