EDITORIAL: Journey together for mental health month

Let’s start this editorial by asking “Are you okay?”

Those three simple words can have a profound effect in making connections, sharing burdens and, above all, starting conversations that have the potential to save lives.

October is Mental Health Month throughout NSW and here in the Bega Valley a wide range of events and activities is planned in line with the 2017 theme of “Share the Journey”. Yesterday, October 11, the official launch of the shire’s program took place at the regional art gallery in Bega.

Then, later this month, several journeys will take place to raise awareness of the critical issue of mental health in the Bega Valley and beyond.

The volunteers at the Bega Valley Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) will once again host their annual Walk With Us awareness event at the Old Bega Racecourse on October 28.

The walk along the Bega River path and old racetrack, which was first held in 2014, is a way for the community to share as one their loss, love and support.

Suicide was the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15 and 44 last year, according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently.

The Causes of Death Australia 2016 report also revealed suicide was the leading cause of death for children aged 5 to 17 years.

Apart from the recorded statistics, it’s thought that for every death to suicide, around 30-50 people are directly impacted. And in a tight-knit community like the Bega Valley Shire, that number is exponentially higher.

Remembrance Ride at Pambula Rivermouth, October 2016

Remembrance Ride at Pambula Rivermouth, October 2016

Meanwhile, the Remembrance Motorcycle Ride from Bega to Pambula will be held on October 29, with riders sharing the journey as well as thoughts for all those lost over the years.

Motorcyclists will meet at Kiss's Lagoon in Bega for a ride out to Pambula River Mouth for some quiet time, before heading back into Bega for lunch at The Commercial Hotel.

Registration is $5 per bike, with funds being passed onto Bega SPAN for ongoing suicide prevention training courses. Call Glenn Cotter on 0402 474 514 for details.

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