Margaret River and Cowaramup women undertake Coastrek to honour lives lost

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Leah Tate, Hayley Lynn, Emma Shannon and Kym Earl are taking on the Coastrek.
Camera IconLeah Tate, Hayley Lynn, Emma Shannon and Kym Earl are taking on the Coastrek. Credit: Supplied

With scores of women setting off today along the Cape-to-Cape Track raising funds for Beyond Blue, one woman is making the trek with special significance.

Cowaramup woman Kym Earl formed a team for this month’s Coastrek to honour her brother Jason Nixon who took his own life in 2009 after years of struggling with mental health issues.

She told the Times when the inaugural Margaret River Coastrek first popped up on her radar, she saw the chance to raise money for a worthy charity, get out with her friends into the region’s stunning environment, and also do something tangible for those like her brother who still had a chance to turn their lives around.

“I am doing Coastrek because it is close to my heart and I have been affected by mental health personally,” Mrs Earl said.

“After losing Jason to suicide, I realised we need to really get the message out there that it is OK to talk about mental health and your struggles.

“By participating in something like Coastrek, the community is talking about it and the stigma attached to mental health is slowly dissipating — very slowly, but still happening.”

Jason was 32 when he died after years of drug and alcohol issues brought on by his underlying mental health condition.

He had sought to take his life on multiple previous occasions, with family and friends frustrated at the lack of support channels which saw him processed through WA’s court system for minor incidents, rather than receive proper treatment for his mental health.

Jason’s mother Dianne Nixon unsuccessfully bid to have a coronial inquiry into her son’s death, convinced the tragedy could have been avoided with more timely and compassionate intervention.

Mrs Earl said it was a sad fact suicide destroyed families, with those left behind wrestling with a range of heavy emotions.

“You question if you could have done something different, if it was your fault, why did they do it,” she said.

“The day we lost Jase, we also lost mum. Her heart was broken. We watched her suffer for four years until she passed away.”

Team member Hayley Lynn said she was also taking part to honour those touched by suicide.

“I’ve had people choose to leave this world and I’ve had people fight to stay,” Miss Lynn said.

“The more we’re open to what’s going on in our lives — and how we’re feeling within ourselves — the better chance we have to live a happy, fulfilling life. And everyone deserves that.”

Mrs Earl said organisations like Beyond Blue needed support to provide the services never available to her brother.

Her team with friends Ms Lynn, Leah Tate and Emma Shannon would undertake the trek starting today alongside other teams, including local emergency service crews, as part of the Wild Women on Top initiative looking to raise almost $1 million.

It’s the first time the women-only adventure will come to the Margaret River region, with Coastrek already an established fundraising challenge in Sydney, the Sunshine Coast and Adelaide’s Fleurieu Peninsula.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails