Postcard from Bundaberg and Bargara
As the Lived Experience coordinator for CQWBSC, part of my focus this year has been to connect with the Wide Bay regional communities and engage locals with a lived experience of suicide to create further supports. I have visited Bundaberg several times this year and connected with the incredible locals from the Bundaberg Regional Suicide Prevention Network. When they asked if I would support them in their WSPD community event, I had no hesitation; I have been genuinely inspired by this wonderful community of people, who passionately volunteer their time creating awareness of suicide prevention.
I love my journeys to Bundaberg; driving through the countryside with the deep red earth, sugar cane fields for miles, and open blue skies, listening to the 100 rock song countdown. On this occasion, I continued a further 13km east of Bundaberg to the coastline of Bargara, which is unusual in that you end up on a coastline with only sugar cane fields separating the two centres.
The focus of my recent journey to Bundaberg was to engage the community in a local World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 event ‘Out of the Shadows Walk’. This annual event gives people who have been touched by suicide a chance to remember their loved ones and walk with others, who like them, have been affected. The walk culminated in a brief ceremony to remember those who have been lost to suicide and the release of roses into the ocean.
This memorable day began by torchlight at 5 am. More than 30 people, including local police and community members, took part in the 4km walk along Bargara Esplanade to the Nielson Beach. Among the early sunrise walkers was an elderly couple who have participated in the walk every year for the past eight years – truly inspiring.
As we walked, we connected, shared stories, laughed, and engaged with curious locals who wanted to understand more about this group who walked with roses in hand. When we reached the beach, we were met by more locals who drew ‘R U OK’ in the sand with the letter ‘O’ depicted as a labyrinth. The labyrinth is a complicated path in which it is difficult to find one’s way and an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It represents a journey to our own centre and back again out into the world. After walking the labyrinth, we had a moment’s silence before releasing our roses into the ocean, as we continued to watch the sunrise on a new day.
Thank you to the wonderful, brave, and generous individuals who took part in this very important day as we remembered those lost to suicide and renewed our dedication to saving lives and reducing the emotional pain and distress associated with suicide. My cup was overflowing with joy and gratitude.