Survivors share stories of hope at Albany vigil to shine a light on suicide prevention day

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
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Gnowangerup's Claire Munch shared her story at the From Darkness to Light World Suicide Prevention Day vigil.
Camera IconGnowangerup's Claire Munch shared her story at the From Darkness to Light World Suicide Prevention Day vigil. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

By the warm glow of candlelight, people from across the Great Southern stood in thoughtful silence in the heart of Albany on Friday night to remember loved ones lost to suicide.

Marking World Suicide Prevention Day, the From Darkness to Light vigil aimed to share stories of hope, embrace those affected by suicide and encourage people to talk.

With the support of her friends, Gnowangerup’s Claire Munch recounted her recovery after two attempts at taking her own life more than a decade ago.

“I was absolutely desperate and the constant mental pain I was experiencing was invading my whole being and I could no longer see any other option than to leave this world which would finally see an end to my pain,” she said.

“I was unable to even consider the devastating impact that my death by suicide would have on my loved ones.”

A crowd gathers in Albany Town Square to honour World Suicide Prevention Day.
Camera IconA crowd gathers in Albany Town Square to honour World Suicide Prevention Day. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

Ms Munch also paid tribute to her close friend, whose death by suicide was the catalyst for Ms Munch to grip on to the help and lift herself out of a the “tsunami” of pain that had swallowed her for years.

She said it was a long and difficult process but today she was happy and no longer had suicidal thoughts.

“I see blue skies most days as most other people do and I am able to dream again,” she said. “Losing my dear friend Kate is a loss that cannot and never will be replaced or forgotten.

“I speak out in her memory today in the hope that we can encourage others to reach out for help so that we can prevent others from ending their lives. I know this is a very hard and scary thing to do but it is possible that those black days can become grey and then bright.

Ruah Community Services’ Ian Magor.
Camera IconRuah Community Services’ Ian Magor. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

“So please reach out and tell someone how you are feeling, help is available.”

Ruah Community Services’ Ian Magor urged the crowd not to be afraid to ask a maybe uncomfortable but life-saving question.

“The question, ‘Are you thinking of suicide?’ needs to be asked directly and openly and that confronts a lot of people,” he said.

“It can be a scary conversation because we think if we do ask the question we may make things worse.

“But we do need to ask the question and be prepared to really listen to the answer.”

On average, about eight people a day take their own lives in Australia.

Great Southern Suicide Prevention Advisory Group chair Kristin Haefner.
Camera IconGreat Southern Suicide Prevention Advisory Group chair Kristin Haefner. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

Great Southern Suicide Prevention Advisory Group chair Kristin Haefner said the community needed to challenge the silence.

“Talking about suicide openly and comfortably builds the foundation for a suicide-safe community ... we would like to have those conversations in our communities, our homes and our workplaces or public spaces,” she said.

“It is important that we can dispel the myths about suicide from the truth because it’s only when we start to talk about it that we can reduce the stigma and the prejudice that keeps us silent.”

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