Stepping out of shadows

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Out of the Shadows Canberra organisers Tom Hulse and Debbi Knee speak about their experiences with suicide.

IT may be the leading cause of death for people under the age of 44 in Australia, according to Lifeline Australia, but death by suicide is still considered a taboo topic.

And it’s for that reason Debbi Knee and Tom Hulse hope the “Out of the Shadows” walk will help the community speak out about the issue.

Debbi and Tom work for the national office of Lifeline and both have been affected by suicide. It’s their experiences that inspired them to organise the walk, which coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day, on Saturday September 10.

Debbi’s first experience with suicide was when she was 17 and a friend died from suicide. But it wasn’t until she was older that she found herself talking a relative out of taking their own life.

“I guess coming to Lifeline and doing the suicide intervention training really confirmed to me how important it is to talk about it, to recognise the signs and to feel comfortable acknowledging those signs with someone if you are worried about them,” she says.

Tom was 18 when he was “engaging in acts that were truly unhealthy” to deal with his depression.

“It was a very difficult time, quite a dark time. It wasn’t pleasant, but for me now it’s actually a positive because I can look back and see how far I’ve come and how I’ve recovered from that,” he says.

“Out of the Shadows” walk will be at Lake Burley Griffin from Gallipoli Reach to Aspen Island at 5.30am on Saturday September 10.

The walk will begin with a song and reading and will commence just before sunrise to “symbolise walking from the darkness into the light”.

Debbi says a walk like this is important to raise awareness about suicide.

“I think it’s over 2200 people in Australia suicide every year and that impacts such a huge number of people,” she said.

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