FOR Katherine Houareau, the lead up to Christmas has become a time to connect, laugh, reflect and start to look forward to what the new year brings.
But this wasn’t always the case for the 48-year-old Hocking resident who previously found the Christmas period difficult and stressful.
Ms Houareau attempted suicide several times between the ages of 19 and 40 but managed to turn her life around with the support of Lifeline WA, her dad and close friends.
This has motivated her to become an ambassador for the Lights for Lifeline campaign, which aims to raise awareness of suicide prevention and spread the message that no one should feel alone this Christmas.
“I’ve learned to reach out to people that I can relate to, who I trust and who have a good understanding of wellbeing, facing the challenges in life and reflecting in a safe way,” she said.
“It’s important to remember you are not alone and focus on the positives of what your partner, kids, family or friends bring to your life such as joy, laughter, love and beautiful memories.”
Lifeline WA chief executive Lorna MacGregor said the campaign also raised money to fund the expansion of the WA crisis call centre.
“Last year, more than 46,500 West Australians called Lifeline’s telephone crisis line,” she said.
“Recent statistics released by the ABS show 409 West Australians died by suicide in 2017 and WA has the third highest suicide rate in the country.
“This highlights the need for us to urgently train more volunteers to answer more calls.”
Ms Houareau said she had been one of the thousands of people who called Lifeline for help.
“I had reached out to Lifeline when I was at my lowest and found the counsellors were very warm, understanding and reached out to me in a way that kept me wanting to live and seek help,” she said.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.”
As a Lights for Lifeline ambassador, Ms Houareau will attend events and help decorate WA’s biggest Christmas tree, to be put up in Yagan Square from November 7.
To donate, visit www.lifelinewa.org.au/Donations.
Lifeline’s 24/7 telephone crisis support service is available on 13 11 14.