One of the crowd members at Thursday night’s mental health forum had more reason than most to be there.
Alex Smith of Wolumla has lost both his best friend and a close cousin to suicide within the past five months.
Along with other family issues, Alex has had a rough time of late trying to come to terms with the losses, particularly of his closest friend, a fellow Lumen Christi student who took his own life at the age of 14.
“I’ve had time to move on since, but I still get emotional,” he said during a break in the forum with adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, which coincided with RUOK Day.
“Right now I’m okay – this [the forum] lifts my mood.
“It gives me, as Michael is saying, a ‘spark’ to do some good.”
Alex said he has some rituals he performs each day to help him remember his friend, as well as cope with his untimely death.
Visiting a favourite spot they shared every morning is one.
Both Alex and his mother Tonia said the forum was “brilliant” with plenty of good simple advice that will really help.
Tonia also praised Lumen for its supportive environment.
And Alex said Dr Carr-Gregg’s advice won’t just be of benefit to him.
“I have a lot of friends around me – I think I’ll be able to teach them a lot from this night,” Alex said.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, free confidential help is always available:
Lifeline 131 114
beyondblue 1300 224 636
Kids Help Line 1800 551 800