Winter Solstice: What’s happening on the night

Preparing for the Winter Solstice for Suicide Survivors are Albury Mayor, Jack Percy, 18, Carevan CEO Jodie Tiernan, Renn Picard, 17, Annette Baker, Harry Thurtell, 17, Di Watson and Tom Duck, 17. Picture: TARA GOONANWHAT: Winter Solstice for Survivors of Suicide

WHEN:Friday, June 21

TIME:5pm-8pm – QEII Square

7.30pm – Soden’s Hotel

DETAILS: Event starts at QEII Square at 5pm, with guest speakers and live performances beginning from 5.45pm. Hot soups, curries and drinks available for purchase from Carevan.Event continues with a concert lead by indigenous artist Archie Roach at Soden’s Hotel from 7.30pm. Tickets cost $35 and are available from the hotel.

AS the longest night of the year closes in, suicide “survivors” will gather in Albury to shed light on the darkness of a silent grief in the community.

Former Australian of the Year and leading mental health advocate Dr Patrick McGorry and Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Sue Murray will be among the keynote presenters at a Winter Solstice for Survivors of Suicide evening on Friday, June 21 in Albury’s QEII Square.

But the evening, which the organising committee hopes could be marked every year on this date to support those who have lost friends or family to suicide, is about much more than formal presentations.

SOS spokesperson Annette Baker said the aim was to give anyone in the community who has been affected by suicide the opportunity to gather in a supportive environment.

“It is to help promote healing and break down the stigma,” Mrs Baker said.

“Too often there are complex and often unresolved emotions surrounding the suicide of a loved one.

“There can be no feeling of closure — the grief can be silent and unacknowledged.”

The Winter Solstice evening follows on from The Border Mail’s Ending the Suicide Silence campaign, which began in August 2012.

The campaign has created a concerted community push for a headspace youth mental health centre in Albury-Wodonga and culminated in this newspaper taking out the Walkley award for leadership in journalism.

But the SOS committee wants to expand on these prevention campaigns to provide a dedicated event and continuing support for those left behind after a suicide — the “survivors”, their friends and the community.

“(Because) the silence can fall again too easily,” Mrs Baker said.

“We have specifically chosen the date of the Winter Solstice for its symbolism — from darkness to a hopefully brighter future.”

The evening, supported by Albury Council and Carevan, will include a heart-warming account by Jennifer Watterson, who has “lived the experience” of losing her older brother to suicide.

Dr Patrick McGorry, who lent his voice at the start of The Border Mail’s campaign, will join SPA’s Ms Murray in supporting the event while Albury High School Choir and Drama Group, Emma Percy and Paul Dyason will provide a special entertainment program.

The Winter Solstice for Survivors of Suicide evening will start from 5pm for a 5.45pm start with winter warming curries and soup available from the Carevan as well as coffee and hot drinks prior to proceedings.

MORE:White ribbons to help heal suicide survivors

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