Sunday, July 21, 2024

Orange turns true blue for suicide prevention

Orange City Council and local community groups are slowing turning the city blue as part of an international campaign to tackle suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

Working with the Orange Suicide Prevention Network and volunteers, a tree in Pilcher Park was painted blue late last year. Council staff have now also installed 16 blue benches in parks and recreation spots across the city.

The initiative is part of the international Blue Tree Project in which 937 trees have been painted in nine different countries.

The stand-out blue furniture is designed to be a conversation-starter that would encourage people to speak up when battling mental health concerns. The message behind the campaign is It’s ok not to be ok.

Orange City Council Services Policy Committee Chair, Mel McDonell said she was pleased to see this mental health initiative taking root in the Orange community.

“By painting a tree and installing blue benches across Orange, we are sending a message of support to anyone who may be struggling with their mental health,” Cr McDonell said.

“It’s concerning to learn that more than 40 suicides were recorded in Orange between 2017 and 2021. Most of these incidents involved boys and young men.”

“It is important to remember that It’s ok not to be ok and that there are resources available for those who need support. It Is time for everyone to join the conversation.”

An event to launch the project in Orange will be held on Saturday 22 April from 2pm at Pilcher Park.

The event will include a welcome to country, a smoking ceremony and the laying of a wreath for loved ones lost to suicide in the community.

People attending will also be able to join in a ‘colour run’ to be held in nearby Elephant Park from 3pm.

This event is supported by Orange City Council, the NSW Government, the Blue Tree Project, Orange Region Suicide Prevention Network and Orange United Sports Club.

“By spreading the paint and spreading the message that ‘It’s ok to not be ok’, we can help break down the stigma that’s still largely attached to mental health,” Cr McDonell said.

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