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DEPRESSION has cast a dark pall over Sandra Annetts' life for more than two decades.

It began in 1986, when her son James died while working on a property in Western Australia.

She admits the grief and the ongoing legl fight to uncover how he died had left irreparable scars on her psyche. "I've had anxiety and panic attacks and ben in and out of hospital," she said.

"For a long time there, I didn't care if I lived or died. I couldn't stop the horrible thoughts in my head and I ended up withdrawing completely and locking myself away."

But, through medication, a strong network of friends and the love of her family, Sandra has been slowly rediscovering herself. "I think the anti-depressants have saved my life," she said. "That's why I get so angry when people say they'd never take anti-depressants. Until you've had depression, you could never imagine what it's like and how much it changes your life. There's no shame in taking them. I would urge anyone who feels they may be depressed to see a doctor."

She said while perceptions towards mental illness were changing, for many it was still shrouded in secrecy.

"It's an illness like any physical illness and people should never be ashamed," she said. "People worry what others might think but if we all think like that nothing will change. It's time we brought it out into the open."

Sandra said simply talking about her problems had been a big part of her treatment. She has become close friends with Griffith Suicide Awareness president Val Rowe and sits on the committee of the charity.

To read Sandra's story, please click here.


In October last year on her second wedding anniversary, 25 year old Melissa Barton was shocked to learn she had type one diabetes. The only clues to her sudden diagnoses was she had recently lost a lot of weight (nearly ten kilos off her already slight frame), her unquenchable thirst and she was very tired.

After a check up tests confirmed Melissa had diabetes, her relationship with food has changed. Type one diabetes means a lifelong dependence on injecting insulin into your body compared with type two diabetes which is lifestyle related and can be managed through diet, exercise and medications.

Melissa ate healthy food and is a fit young lady but type one diabetes does not discriminate and is an auto immune disease which basically means you can't do anything to prevent it. Melissa's pancreas was not producing insulin and without insulin cannot be converted into energy, increasing her blood sugar levels. For Melissa and her husband the last few months have been a steep learning curve.

"I find I am living by the clock. I am always thinking when my next meal will be and try to have a routine," said Melissa, "I can live with it and have adapted my lifestyle but I am controlling it rather than let it control me."

To raise money to bring specialist endoconologist Professor Yue and his team to Griffith three times a year for Diabetes sufferers across the region. The Griffith branch of Diabetes Australia Griffith Branch will host a fundraising BBQ on April 21st at Westend Estate from 6pm. It costs the branch over $10,000 in airfares and accommodation to bring Professor Yue and his team to Griffith, but according to Melissa, that money is well worth it.

The BBQ is open to the general public and there is also a raffle. Theme is red, tickets ae $5 each, children are free and tickets are available at Birds-n-Fish and the East Griffith Pharmacy.

De Bortoli Celebrazione!
Easter Sunday 8th April

This is the third year De Bortoli have held 'celebrazione!' on Easter Sunday in conjunction with Griffith City Motors Honda and Griffith Book City. Although it is a completely separate event from the La Festa street festival in Banna Avenue Griffith on Easter Saturday, 'celebrazione' does complement this event. It is a great family day with fabulous live music, this year from Saturday's headline act The BordererS plus delicious food at very reasonable prices from In Bocca (with complimentary wine) and the latest luxury Honda cars on display.

Taking the lead from other local companies it seemed a good idea to use the event to contribute something back to the local community. We chose Griffith Suicide Awareness because firstly it is a local organisation and we wanted any moneys raised to go back into the local community; secondly because the work Griffith Suicide Awareness is doing assisting local families and youth is so relevant at this time - with the prolonged drought which is putting enormous pressure on rural families, and with the youth problems Griffith has been experiencing in recent times.

We commend all the wonderful volunteers who put so much effort into this organisation and ask if you come and visit De Bortoli Wines on Easter Sunday ask that you support Griffith Suicide Awareness by making a contribution.


Val  Receiving Her Award
(Citizen of the Year 2005)
Presented By Mayor John Dal Broi

Val Rowe with Olya Booyar
from SBS Television

Val thanking everyone


A gentle breeze kept the summer heat at bay for a record crowd at the Australia Day Celebrations at Pioneer Park. More than 800 local residents were welcomed by Wiradjuri elder Stan Grant, who told residents to “enjoy your special day”. The crowd applauded warmly as 41 new Australians gained Citizenship in a moving ceremony, the second largest contingent to date.

Citizen of the Year 2005 award winner Val Rowe was in tears before she reached the podium and thanked her friends & family for their support. “I’m lost for words. This day wouldn’t happen without the support of everyone in this town,” Ms Rowe said. “Because depression is such a hard thing to talk about, I hope this encourages people in this community to take a step forward. I just want to thank everyone for all their help. This is a wonderful community”.

The Suicide Awareness President was recognised for her work on a number of Mental Health initiatives including the Day Of Understanding, Dancing with Our Stars and Walk Away Your Worries.

Mayor John Dal Broi said he hoped the ceremony would keep growing. “Its good to see so many people from all walks of life here and Australians being patriotic” Mayor Dal Broi said. “I’d like to encourage people here to fly the Australian Flag in their homes every day”.
Story courtesy of Miki Perkins, The Area News.

 The Area News Griffith
Motor & Leisure Show
11th & 12th November 2005

Entry was a  gold coin donation
Suicide Awareness collected over the 2 days in gate takings $2075.00
We thank the Area News and
the Griffith community for their fantastic support.

Sunday 9th October 2005 PCYC

 Car Boot Sale ,Show and Shine, Swap Meet
held at the Griffith Ex-Servicemen’s oval.


Daisy the clown was present handing out balloons while Val Rowe & Ian Carter were promoting the 2005 “Walk Away Your Worries” team with a barrel for the community to toss a coin in.

Helping to raise awareness for Suicide & Depression

In August 2005, Gaynor Hicks and Rhona  Mackie visited Griffith and met with Val Rowe to discuss the possibility of providing training in Suicide Intervention for the community of Griffith in 2006. Gaynor and Rhona who are both trainers with Living Works Education, were travelling around NSW as part of a project arranged by Life Care funded by the Department of Family and Community Services Drought Relief funding.
The project involved providing training in areas that were drought affected. A total of 12 workshops took place with 180 people receiving training in Suicide First Aid. The training was to help raise awareness about Suicide and to equip participants with the vital skills that could help save a life should someone be thinking of killing themselves.

Gaynor Hicks , Val Rowe
and Rhona Macki

The workshop Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is the most widely  presented workshop on Suicide intervention in the world. It was developed over 20 years ago in Canada by Living Works Education. Living Works is auspiced in Australia by Lifeline .
Gaynor and Rhona were excited to see all of the excellent work Suicide Awareness has been doing in Griffith. 'We are hoping to return in 2006 to provide training for the community of Griffith and network more with the Suicide Awareness.'




Suicide Awareness .com Inc

PO Box 8039, Griffith
NSW 2680, Australia