Understanding the journey

By David Kavanagh | posted on September 6, 2019

SUICIDE survivor Dno Summers has a long journey ahead of him.

The 52-year-old live music videographer is currently passing through the Great Southern on a 4300km hike from Bunbury to Sydney he calls his Walk for Hope.

Mr Summers’ intention is to raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health every step of the way and is bringing with him a white flag on which people can write the names of those they have lost.

His self-funded trek kicked off on August 23 and is expected to take several months to complete.

“It’s been a very emotional and powerful journey so far and I’m only 100km away from home,” he told the Weekender prior to reaching Kojonup on Sunday.

“I’ve got around 50 names on the flag already which is rather upsetting but it’s going to get the message across that the people on it aren’t statistics, they’re actually somebody.

“If I can help just one person, that will make it all worthwhile.”

Mr Summers described his walk as a “very personal” journey, prompted in part by his own lifelong struggle with depression and his suicide attempt in 2000.

Over the years he has lost nine friends to suicide, the most recent of which passed a few months ago.

“Since I came to Australia [from New Zealand] about 11 years ago and got involved in the music scene, my depression has subsided a bit,” he said.

“But when my mate took his life recently, it reared its ugly head again and I could feel myself going back to what I used to be like. I thought it’s time to do something about it.”

The self-described “crazy Kiwi” said he hoped he could be part of the healing process for the families in small towns struggling with loss themselves.

He said there was a need to end the stigma and encourage open conversation about mental health, especially among youth and those in high-stress roles like doctors and police officers.

“I just want to raise awareness that it’s okay to start talking. No one’s going to think you’re weak by choking up or starting to cry,” Mr Summers added.

“If your mate’s got depression or you see that he’s hurting, don’t turn your back on him.”

Mr Summers is next set to travel to Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Ravensthorpe and eventually Norseman, after which he will have to travel more than 800km across the Nullarbor.

According to Lifeline WA, suicide remains the leading cause of death for Western Australians between the ages of 15 and 44, with an average of one person taking their life every day in 2017.

If you or someone you know needs support, contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.