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Yvette’s long walk for change

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Suicide remains the leading cause of death in Australia. In 2018, it took eight lives a day on average.

Just under a decade old, Australian organisation R U OK? works to facilitate conversations within communities in order to help raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention.

This year, Canberra’s own Yvette Perez is getting behind R U OK?, following her own personal experiences with loss and grief.

“I am witness to the devastating long term and intra-generational effects [of suicide] on our loved ones,” says Yvette. She shares her story of the loss of a young friend to suicide and goes on to disclose that she “[struggles] from time to time [herself] when [she’s] overwhelmed.”

In response to experiences like this, R U OK? has been encouraging all Australians to meaningfully connect with people around them and start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life – an initiative that has made a difference in the lives of many, including Yvette.

The Casey local states how grateful she is for the “support and compassion” shown to her during times of hardship.

“I’m aware that I wouldn’t have had it, had I not spoken about my struggles,” she reflects. It is this gratitude, along with recognising the impact that a simple question can have on lives, which has propelled Yvette towards her current drive.

“I just want my children to grow up knowing that they can talk to anybody,” she explains. “It’s too late once somebody’s gone. There are regrets and there’s ‘what-ifs’. I just hope we can make a difference to people before things get to that point.”

Yvette believes that people should “discuss suicide, more frequently and more honestly.”

“We are reading about it – that another life has been lost to suicide or that the statistics are continuing to worsen… But why are we not speaking about suicide more? The topic of suicide is shocking, but it shouldn’t be offensive and taboo.”

The mother of four trusts in the power of practice, hoping that the more suicide is spoken about, the easier it will be to do so. Yvette has since gotten behind R U OK? in support of their mantra to check in on those around us.

“I can see that charities have a really life-changing effect on people and make such a huge difference. I’m a mum and I’ve got young kids [so] I’m really happy to be able to support [charities], and to be a role model for my children.”

In order to spread the word, Yvette has signed up to participate in two fundraising efforts. The first is happening at the end of May and entails 24 hours on a treadmill.

After partnering with R U OK?, Anytime Fitness has created fundraising event Tread as One. The fundraiser will make its third annual debut in Canberra’s Casey and Gungahlin clubs, and will feature participants on treadmills for a whole 24 hours.

Having only signed up with the Casey club a week before the actual event, Yvette has been doing as much as she can to prepare for the walk.

“I’ve been walking the kids to school, walking to pick up the groceries. I’m just trying to keep active and healthy. To not hurt myself is my aim,” she laughs.

The Canberra mum has also registered with R U OK? to embark on the Larapinta Trek in the Northern Territory. From the 5 – 11 August, she will hike 60km in an effort to raise funds for the organisation.

Local communities are invited to get behind Yvette and contribute to the nationwide suicide prevention cause. Tread as One will be held in Casey’s Anytime Fitness club this Friday 31 May to Saturday 1 June.

There will be a cash box on the day for loose change and donations can also be made straight to Anytime Fitness, where proceeds will go straight to R U OK?

For the Larapinta trek, donations to R U OK? can be made on Yvette’s page here. Registrations are still open for anyone looking to participate.

the essentials

What: R U OK? x Anytime Fitness ‘Tread as One’
When: Friday 31 May to Saturday 1 June
Where: Anytime Fitness, Casey
Donate: Via cashbox on the day or at anytimefitness.com.au/treadmillevent

What: R U OK? ‘Larapinta Trek’
When: 5-11 August
Website: inspiredadventures.com.au/events/ruok-larapinta-2019

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