Norlane resident Ben Le Fevre has completed a significant personal challenge to honour lost loved ones, raise money and awareness of suicide prevention activities in Geelong.
As well as playing a key role in the annual Geelong Suicide Prevention Awareness Network (SPAN) walk this month, during July he walked 200 kilometres on his way to raising $2791 for RUOK?
The RUOK? event raised money to help provide counselling in remote areas and develop programs for schools and workplaces about how to ask RUOK? and know how to follow up if the answer is no.
The 200 kilometres, about six kilometres a day, were at night and mostly alone. Sponsors supported his effort and contributed to his fundraising result, which exceeded his original goal of $1000.
“I decided to do the kilometres at night because my loved ones were in a dark place at the time,” he said. “I also carried a weighted bag, because I know they would have been carrying a lot of emotions with them.”
Ben, 26, is a Geelong SPAN committee member and has joined its annual walk since it began in 2010. Ben has lost six loved ones to suicide since 2008 and joined SPAN to get support for himself.
“I then realised that Geelong still had an issue with suicide and depression being a taboo subject,” he said. “I wanted to help raise awareness.”
The traditional SPAN walk was replaced by a virtual walk on September 13, with Ben providing a welcome to participants via a Facebook live feed. He said the walk helps dismantle the stigma around the taboo subject and is a safe place to talk about loved ones lost to suicide.
Ben said he has experienced depression himself and knows what a merry-go-round it can be. He wants everyone to have access to support when they need it most.
If you or someone you know needs help phone, Lifeline on 131-114 or Beyond Blue on 1300-224-636. You can support SPAN Geelong by going to its website https://www.spangeelong.com/