White wreath day recalls suicide victims
Families and friends of suicide victims gathered in a moving memorial service at Post Office Square to mark White Wreath Day.
White Wreath Association founder Fanita Clark fought back tears as she delivered her speech to onlookers.
“What you see here today takes 12 months to organise. But what we are here for is to raise money to build safe haven centres. We’re here to keep the living alive,” she said.
The association was founded after Ms Clark’s only son Jason 19, committed suicide on 29 May, 1999.
Every white wreath laid represented a person who died from suicide in the past year. The wreaths contained photos, messages and poems from loved ones.
People in the crowd shed tears openly as they remembered loved ones lost. Ms Clark said her association aimed to establish safe havens for sufferers of mental illness, remove the stigma attached and raise public awareness.
“We need to create a society that is comfortable talking about mental illness and suicide. If 8000 people a year died of other means there would be a completely different response,” she said.
Other speakers included Vietnam Veterans, Logan & Albert Sub-branch vice president John Tower who spoke of the need to address suicide prevention within the armed forces and public services sector.
“Sometimes it is just too gruesome. Like our firemen, paramedics, police and the things that they see. They don’t tell their loved ones,” he said.
After the guest speeches the wreaths were laid while the Queensland Police Pipes and Drums band played Amazing Grace which was followed by a minute’s silence.
Metropolitan Community Church Reverend Dr Leigh Neighbour then offered a prayer for the deceased before the sombre mood was lifted with a rousing rendition of Waltzing Matilda from the QLD Pipes and Drums band.
Ms Clark blamed the low turnout this year on the poor weather but also the limited turnaround time for preparations due to the Queensland State and Council elections.
For more information on White Wreath Association visit www.whitewreath.com