Beechworth To Bridge
B2Bs 'internet savvy' youngster
At 13, I didn't know a lot about the world, but I would learn fast.
I'd lived a pretty wholesome childhood, with older
siblings to look up to and loving parents who taught me more than I could ever learn in school.
I knew my parents shared an unbreakable love, and that they were good, kind, selfless people.
I knew my Dad had served in Vietnam 30 years
earlier and and had not managed to sit still since.
I knew my parents had married young, lived many lives together, built a beautiful family home, and raised a handful of bright, empathetic, resilient kids.
I knew Dad had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and sometimes he had to go away to see a doctor and rest - but I had no idea what PTSD actually was. I had no idea he might take his own life - until he did.
I was 13 years old when suicide tore down the world around me for the first time and I will remember every moment of that night for the rest of my life.
After the first few weeks, the obligatory barrage of food and flowers, after the initial shock wore off, everything went quiet, people returned to their normal lives, and we tried to find our "new normal".
For the next 7 years, my dear Mum fought tooth and bloody nail against her grief, surviving a number of her own suicide attempts, trying desperately to recover and move forward but never truly finding peace.
Most of these years we lived alone; a teenage girl and
her severely depressed mother fighting to be well, fighting constant emotional pain, fighting the little voice inside her head telling her she was a burden to us, that we would be better off without her, fighting just to stay alive.
Soon after finishing high school, a friend suicided so unexpectedly that I thought it had to be a vicious rumor - I drove straight to his house to prove (to myself) that it couldn't be true, but there were friends and family everywhere - it was true alright, and I didn't know where to turn.
I was 18 and thought I knew everything there was to know about the world, nothing could shake me, but I had no idea people could decide to end their life without being mentally ill - suicide can happen quickly, without warning, without an explanation, and that is terrifying.
Three weeks after I turned 20, we lost Mum, too, despite years of private psychiatric care. We'd been to the brink many times before, but Mum's death was unexpected and we were not prepared.
Mum had been making plans for a holiday and didn't seem particularly down or reckless, which had often been warning signs. We missed it this time, and for the third time in seven years, suicide came knocking and the world stopped turning.
More recently, suicide has taken the lives of friends and acquaintances, both young and old, some unwell or at risk and others completely unexpected.
My elephant manifested in the friends and family who quickly faded away and the conversations that took place as though the dead had never existed.
My hope for Lisa's walk is that it encourages people to conquer the taboo and stop pretending suicide doesn't happen - it happens, in fact in 2016 there were more than double the number of deaths by suicide than there were from road trauma.
Now I am 30 and I realise I don't know everything there is to know about the world, but I know a hell of a lot more than I did at 18. Nobody is invincible, least of all me, and we owe it to each other to be present, offer real support, and never fear to make the call for help when it is needed.