One of my best friends Chris Richards unfortunately lost his battle with mental illness in January… he had been battling his own demons for a couple of years now, before deciding to end it by jumping from a cliff at North Bondi.
As much as we knew that he was struggling (he had a very tough time with a failed relationship that was very toxic, had struggled to keep a job, had run out of money) none of us had any idea that it was that bad. He would never talk to anybody about it. He was too proud… he was a traditional Welsh man (although he’d lived in Australia for 14 years) and they don’t talk about feelings and what not!
Chris was the life and soul of the party… he was always the one cracking jokes, he was the first one to offer to help someone out when they needed help, he could charm the pants off most ladies! He was loved by a lot of people, all over the world.
So when I got the news (I was actually on honeymoon at the time) it was a huge shock. Devastating. His best friend Amos had to organise everything too for his parents back in Wales as they weren’t able to come over. I felt helpless as I was also so far away and couldn’t do anything to help until I got back.
That’s when I decided that although I could no longer do anything to help Chris it was too late, that I wanted to do something to help prevent this sort of tragedy. So I started researching suicide awareness charities and came across you guys… and your story as to why you set this up reminded me so much of ours. Me, Chris and Amos were three best friends (we used to all live together in Coogee in Sydney until Amos moved up to the Gold Coast and I moved in with my now husband). So it struck a cord. And the work you guys do it fantastic, but most importantly it was breaking the stigma and the #itaintweaktospeak that stood out.
In case you haven’t realised from how long this email is already I am very good at talking… since the age of about 7 my friends mum called me ‘gob almighty’ and it stuck… I’m now 34 and still can talk for England. So I knew that the idea of me being silent would make everyone laugh.. as well as not one person thinking I could actually manage it… for ten minutes let alone 48 hours!
That’s where the idea then came from… the chattiest, nosiest person everybody knows shutting up… and to prove that I wasn’t just going to sit in my apartment on my own all weekend I chose to do it on my ‘birthday weekend’ so that everyone who would normally come and celebrate with me could then come and witness it!
Amos came down from the Gold Coast for it, we made up some signs, we bought some clothes, and off we went to the local on the Saturday! Got very drunk but managed to rally round the pub spreading the message and raising over $1k in the pub…. we got our friends to take pictures with me and the # and share the link on social media and the photos to promote the message to their friends and raise awareness.
When I set the $5k target my husband said he thought it was a bit ambitious for one person but I was convinced I could do it… and even happier when I managed to do it!
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