Lisa Cartledge knows she hasn’t changed the world but she certainly feels like she’s walked to the top of it.
With her daughter Liv by her side the whole way, Lisa has spent the past three weeks walking from Beechworth to the Sydney Harbour Bridge to stamp out the stigma of suicide.
The mother of three has a very personal and powerful story of suicide after losing her father, uncle and most recently her beloved husband Sean to its clutches.
After Sean’s death in 2014, she was determined her children would not be put through the silence and the shame that can shroud the loss of someone to suicide.
A core group of eight took on the 720-kilometre Beechworth to Bridge trek, stopping in towns on the way to walk with the community and talk about mental health and suicide in pubs at night.
Often it was in the tiniest towns where the welcome was warmest and the conversations flowed freely.
From CWA groups to school students, the outpouring of support from communities never failed to put a spring in the step of weary legs and hearts still healing from the loss of loved ones.
On Saturday about 40 people (including Lisa’s two sons Edward and Thomas) made the 30-kilometre walk from Parramatta to the north side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the place where Sean had proposed to Lisa.
“It was really moving,” Lisa said.
“Shane Crispin, one of the guys on the organising committee, organised a guard of honour and a ribbon for the kids and I to cut as we finished.”
Jo Riley, from suicide awareness group Roses In The Ocean, also gave a speech about the lived experience of suicide and how important it was to be able to talk about a loved one, according to Lisa.
“We then all threw red roses in into the ocean, which was really beautiful,” she said.
Along the way the walk has also raised nearly $30,000 for suicide prevention and awareness-raising.
Lisa said some of the funds would go to beyondblue with the remainder to support the Border’s suicide prevention efforts.
It wasn’t until the drive home that Lisa had time to reflect on the enormity of what she had achieved.
She said the journey had been healing for the walkers and many people they met along the way.
“I know we haven’t changed the world but for those we spoke to it feels good that we were able to have a conversation where they could speak about their grief,” Lisa said.
- There is still time to donate to support the walk – go to the group's Facebook page.