THE strains of Scotland the Brave could be heard as walkers set out on Sunday morning to support one another and hope for a brighter future.
Dozens of people gathered for the event, hosted by the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network (SPAN), to remember loved ones and to break the silence that often surrounded deaths caused by suicide.
Co-founder of the event Bette Phillips-Campbell, said the walk from the Dai Gum San precinct, through Rosalind Park and Pall Mall gave participants the chance to talk openly about a subject still widely regarded as taboo.
"The walk removes the feelings of isolation because you come along and you realise you are not the only person this has happened to," she said.
"So many of us have been touched by suicide and there are conversations held on the walk that - even among the families that are here - would not have been had at home."
Ms Phillips-Campbell works as a grief counsellor with families affected by work-related deaths, including those by suicide. She started the SPAN walks with Allanah McGregor, the 2022 City of Greater Bendigo citizen of the year.
"We believe there are a lot of work related suicides and that it is under reported because they are not always recognised as work-related," Ms Phillips-Campbell said.
"It's not just caused by bullying. It can happen to business owners, people who fear losing their jobs, worries about financial pressures, and difficult workplace relationships. And we know that it's not ever just one thing - it can be a range of things.
"It's like grief - when you are in the darkest spaces it's very difficult to see the light ahead and that this too will pass and you will find a new normal."
Ms Phillips-Campbell said speaking about suicide and asking people about their intentions - especially if they are happy after a long period of sadness - could save lives.
"It is a myth that raising the issue of suicide prompts it to happen," she said.
"It can actually act as an intervention. Getting the other person to say it out loud can be the circuit breaker they need."
Ms Phillips-Campbell said there were some red flags to watch for.
"If somebody has been feeling down for a year or so and their family is worried about them and they suddenly become happy and bouncy - that is a time to be hyper-vigilant.
"It can mean they have made a decision. You need to talk to them and never be afraid to ask the question."
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