Lisa Cartledge lost her husband Sean in 2014.
This month she will start a will walk from Beechworth in Victoria to the north side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge hosting walking events at outdoor venues along the way, and encouraging open conversations about suicide and mental health at local pubs in the evenings.
Too often, suicide and mental health are the elephant in the room, and you can join Lisa on the 2018 Elephant Walk for as little as $10 to help.
The walk starts at the Beechworth Golden Horseshoe Parade on March 31, will arrive in Koorawatha on Mon, April 9.
The following day, Tuesday, April 10 the walkers will do the equivalent kilometres around Koorawatha Oval as that from Koorawatha to their next stop in Cowra.
On April 11 they will walk around Holman Oval in Cowra the equivalent distance to their next stop at Lyndhurst.
“The concept is simple; I want to walk and talk - get the conversations flowing, and let the elephant out of the room - set that bastard free,” Lisa said.
Lisa plans to walk approximately 700kms in 21 to 28 days, walking 20 to 30kms each day, and stopping for dinner in a local pub each night to having impromptu conversations.
“We want others to realise it’s okay to talk freely about suicide, so we can, in some small way, contribute to removing the stigma whilst building awareness, encouraging prevention, and contributing to the healing of other survivors,” Lisa said.
“I am one person who wants to stand up, open-up, and start talking about suicide, to aid prevention, awareness, healing and support for survivors of suicide,” Lisa said.
She was first touched by suicide when she lost her uncle in the 1970’s.
In 1986 she also lost her Dad to suicide.
“This time I was older, I was 6 weeks shy of my 18th birthday, I was very aware of the stigma surrounding my Dad’s death and I quickly realised that this thing called ‘suicide’ was not to be discussed or talked about,” Lisa said.
“From the age of 18, I allowed society to convince me that we didn’t talk about suicide - it became the elephant in the room.
“To a degree, it was as if I should be ashamed or embarrassed that my father had died by suicide.
“I’ve spent 30 years feeling anxious about being asked “How did your Dad die?” because I just know that as soon as I say “He committed suicide”, or, “He took his own life”, – there it is; the deafening awkwardness, the loss of eye contact - people don’t know what to say.”
Tragically in 2014, suicide hit Lisa again when her husband Sean took his life.
“We’d been married 25 years, and this time it hit my children too. That’s when I made a decision that the stigma surrounding suicide needs to stop.
“I refuse to let society suggest that my children should be ashamed or embarrassed by their father's death.
I will not allow for them to be drawn into the elephant in the room the way that I was.
“My children will be allowed to remember their father for the wonderful Dad, role model, and husband that he was,” Lisa said.
You can sign up to walk with Lisa during her journey at www.b2b.org.au
Days 1, 2, 21, and 22 are strictly limited for safety reasons, please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to participate in these days, or if you want to share the entire 22 day journey with Lisa.
Day 1 - Saturday, March 31- Beechworth to Yackandandah
Day 2 - Sunday, April 1 - Yackandandah to the NSW border
Day 3 - Monday April 2 - Gerogery Recreational Centre, Ivy Street
Day 4 - Tuesday, April 3- Billabong High School, Culcairn
Day 5 - Wednesday, April 4 - Henty Showgrounds
Day 6 - Thursday, April 5 - The Rock Recreation Ground, Wilson Street
Day 7 - Friday, April 6 - Bolton Park, Edward Street, Wagga Wagga
Day 8 - Saturday, April 7 - Laurie Day Oval, Park Lane, Junee
Day 9 - Sunday, April 8 - Fisher Park, Murray Street, Cootamundra
Day 10 - Monday, April 9 - Keith Cullen Oval, Briggs Street, Young
Day 11 - Tuesday, April 10 - Koorawatha Oval, Bumbaldry Street
Day 12 - Wednesday, April 11 - River Park (Holman Oval), Cowra
Day 13 - Thursday, April 12 - Lyndhurst Recreational Ground
Day 14 - Friday, April 13 - Blayney Showgrounds, Marshalls Lane
Day 15 - Saturday, April 14 - Bathurst Showgrounds, Kendall Avenue
Day 16 - Sunday, April 15 - REST DAY
Day 17 - Monday, April 16 - Lake Wallace, Wallerawang
Day 18 - Tuesday, April 17 - Glanmire Oval, Queen Elizabeth Park, Lithgow
Day 19 - Wednesday, April 18 - Blackheath Memorial Park, Park Avenue
Day 20 - Thursday, April 19 - Buttenshaw Park, Springwood
Day 21 - Friday, April 20 - Penrith to Parramatta
Day 22 - Saturday, April 21 - Parramatta to Milson's Point (FINISH)
All walkers must ensure current ambulance cover at time of participating.
B2B merchandise will be available at each event - cash sales only.
Except day 1 - All walkers to arrive at 8.00am to be walking before 08.30am.
- If you or somebody you know needs crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
- For mental health services, contact the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511