Alan’s passion to help others is leading him to walk from Canberra to Sydney.
At 86, most people are looking at ways to save them walking too far. Not so The Salvation Army’s Envoy Alan Staines.
Leaving Canberra on 18 October, Alan plans to walk 330 km and arrive in Sydney on 16 November, as part of a Walk for Life campaign. Along the way, he will call into 14 towns to address community forums, schools, clubs and other public organisations, and meet local government leaders.
He is on a mission. It’s a mission that meets one of his great passions—supporting and educating the public about coping with the loss of a loved one through suicide. It’s a cause that Alan has been committed to for almost 40 years within The Salvation Army.
He was at the forefront of establishing Oasis Youth Support Network in Sydney, Salvo Care Line, Salvo Youth Line and Hope for Life suicide prevention and bereavement support services. Alan was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2003 for services to young people and received The Salvation Army’s highest honour, the Order of the Founder, in 2007. He is currently national secretary of Postvention Australia, whose sole objective is to provide support for the bereaved by suicide.
“I am passionate about supporting the bereaved by suicide,”Alan says.
“There are many families and individuals
who are falling between the cracks, receiving no help at all. We must be there for them, with empathy and compassion.
“Those left behind after a suicide takes place are particularly vulnerable. They are up to eight times more likely to take their own lives than the general population. By providing much-needed support to people bereaved by suicide [postvention], evidence shows this helps prevent suicide.”
Those left behind after a suicide takes place are particularly vulnerable.
Alan says about 3,000 people take their lives each year in Australia, which equates to eight people each day. For each suicide, at least 135 people are directly affected, which means more than 1,000 people are impacted in Australia every day by a suicide.
“Given the longevity of suicide grief, too many people are in need of help,” he says. “The social, emotional and economic consequences of suicide are immense. To lose somebody to suicide commonly results in intense emotional trauma, shock, grief, guilt, physical and psychological ill health and adverse social circumstances.
“Information and support have been demonstrated as important in helping the bereaved survive through the pain of grief. Recent research has demonstrated that getting help and information is still a haphazard process without a clear pathway to help.”
Alan says that, generally, people do not know how to respond to families following the loss of a loved one through suicide. Postvention Australia’s role is to support people impacted by the loss of a loved one through suicide and educate the public about how to respond in a helpful way.
He has been building fitness for the Walk for Life campaign with a daily exercise program, which sometimes included walking up to 13 km a day.
To support Alan, donate at postventionaustralia.org/walkforlifedonation. For more information about his walk, go to facebook.com/alswalkforlife or call 1300 02 4357 (1300 02 HELP)
Postvention Australia’s mission is to prevent suicide and minimise harm by supporting all people affected by a suicide death.
It aims to do this by establishing a network that provides best practice information and services; holistic, physical, emotional and spiritual support; comfort and understanding for the health and well-being of those affected by a suicide death. It also aims to destigmatise suicide death and raise public awareness of ways to support the bereaved.