One Step at a Time - An Epic Journey for Suicide Awareness
On the 18th May 2015 Rose Weber and her team of 4 walkers - Sarah Whitmarsh, Cathy Williams, Jo Graham and 15 year old Samuel Lancaster will embark on a journey of a lifetime, as they tackle the Canning Stock Route from Wiluna to Halls Creek, a staggering distance of 1850 km’s. This is not just any journey, it is one of deep personal mission to raise awareness on suicide and break the stigma around mental illness.
Rose, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 43 years old and born and bred in Geraldton Western Australia, 400km’s North of Perth. I am married to Mick Weber and have 3 children and 2 stepchildren. I am a clinical nurse at the Geraldton Health Service.
What inspired you to tackle such a mammoth trek?
I was inspired to organise and do something so difficult after the loss of my brother to suicide in 2011. He was a typical man suffering from depression and kept it to himself until it was too late. I am a clinical nurse with mental health experience and he didn’t even tell me. It wasn’t until after he died that we found antidepressant scripts and doctors letters in his house dating back 10 years, which he never filled out. My brother was of the mindset that if you tell someone you are depressed then you are weak. He would not have wanted to be judged so he told no one; instead he took his own life when he could take no more.
I decided that I would no longer accept the stigma associated with mental illness, depression, anxiety situational crisis and any other causes leading up to suicide. Our hope is, that by stopping the stigma, anyone in need of help will go and get it without feeling like they will be judged, “One Step At A Time”.
Doing something dramatic physically and mentally like walk through a desert to get people’s attention allows me to talk about the real reasons behind doing this endurance event. It also allows me to feel a little of what they are feeling every day and never give up.
Why the Canning Stock Route (CSR)? What is the route like?
We chose the Canning Stock Route in Western Australia as a metaphor to anyone suffering from depression, metal illness or suicidal thoughts, to keep going no matter how tough the road ahead is physically or mentally. You can do it - Just One Step At A Time”.
The CSR is on of the longest and most difficult tracks on Earth. It leads through the most remote and inhospitable areas of West Australia, crosses three deserts and climbs over nine hundred steep sand hills. For nearly 1850 kilometres there is no decent supply of food or water and no safe way of escape.
The CSR is the most demanding 4WD track in Australia. There are drives that are rougher, sand dunes that are taller and floodway’s that are stickier, but no track compares with the CSR in terms of sheer distance and the mechanical and physical endurance required.
What will be some of the main challenges you will face on this journey?
We will be walking approximately 30-35kms per day. Some of the main challenges will be the cold - especially at night, muscle related fatigue, carrying all our food and water/equipment each day, as the support vehicles will not be with us during the day – we will meet them at a designated camp spot each night. They will pass us once each day after they have broken camp each morning as we leave a couple of hours before them. Of course there will also be foot damage including blisters.
Three vehicles and their drivers Mick Weber, my husband and head logistics/support vehicle, Saxon Weber, my son - logistics, and Barbara Rebola - co coordinator, will support us.
What are some of the logistics in the lead up to the trek?
For two years with the support of my husband, five grown children, my brother’s son (my nephew) we have been creating awareness. Now we have a team of people behind us including more walkers, support drivers and volunteers who do all the behind the scenes work. It has included securing sponsors to help us complete the trek as well as cardio and weight training so we would be able to cope with the endurance needed for such a feat.
How can people find out more and support this amazing trek?
Thank you Rose. Good luck to you & your team.
Did you know?
That in Australia for every completed suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt.
That’s around 200 attempts per day.
That’s more than one new attempt in Australia every 10 minutes.
Thoughts of suicide (Suicidal ideation)
It is estimated that around 250 people make a suicide plan every day.
It is estimated that around 1,000 people think about suicide every day.
We all have a role to play in suicide prevention.
For 24 hour crisis support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 Or visit
www.lifeline.org.au/crisischat (8:00pm-4:00am AEST).