Survivors of Suicide and Friends was established in 2013 by mental health advocates Annette Baker and Stuart Baker. Based in Albury, New South Wales, Australia, Survivors of Suicide and Friends is a non profit community support network that provides informal assistance to those affected by suicide and mental health issues.
Annette Baker and Stuart Baker have a personal history with suicide. In 2011 their 15 year old daughter, Mary, took her own life after a three year battle with an eating disorder. It was then that Annette and Stuart vowed to fight to remove the stigma and silence associated with suicide and raise funds and awareness in the Albury Wodonga region and beyond.
The story of the Baker family and their continued public advocacy has had a resounding effect on how mental health is now discussed and treated in Albury and beyond. In 2012 the Bakers and the Border Mail newspaper created a campaign named Ending the Suicide Silence. The story that fronted this won a Walkley for Journalism award and the campaign itself resulted in 54 news leads, 12 front page stories and was the start of a community campaign to get then Minister for Health, Mark Butler, to allocate funds for a headspace youth mental health facility for the area. Headspace Albury Wodonga was finally opened in 2015.
Survivors of Suicide and Friends participates in generating publicity around the subject of mental health, coordinating fundraising and community events and acts as spokespeople on issues of mental illness.
Survivors of Suicide and Friends is instrumental in organising the two most prominent mental health fundraising and community events in the region – the Albury Wodonga Big Splash and the Winter Solstice. Both events occur annually in the spirit of showing support and unity for those affected by mental illness and suicide.
Both Annette Baker and Stuart Baker are on the national taskforce committee for Australians for Mental Health. In 2017 they were asked to be a part of the annual Maydays campaign for The Butterfly Foundation to highlight the unacceptably high mortality rate for those suffering from eating disorders, and to call for more support services. This resulted in the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announcing a $170 million allocation to mental health in the 2017 budget.
Since establishing Survivors of Suicide and Friends, Annette Baker was nominated for the Australian Mental Health Prize in 2016 for her tremendous work in raising community awareness and fundraising.
In 2017 Annette Baker was a finalist for the NSW Regional Woman of the Year.
A photograph taken of Annette Baker by Natalie Ord in tribute to Annette’s work in breaking down the social stigma associated with mental illness and suicide was a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017.
If you are interested in getting in touch with Annette or Stuart Baker, please contact Survivors of Suicide and Friends.