A Lithgow man who now lives in Faulconbridge, Greg McManus, is hoping to raise $50,000 to host a ‘Resilience Festival’ in Lithgow in October 2018. Mr McManus believes a festival focusing on mental health will bring the community together to confront the issue of suicide.
“In February this year there were two guys around my age that took their own lives. I grew up with these guys. It was horrible.” Mr McManus said.
“I thought I need to do something to give back to the community and the people I grew up with, and to honour those friends.”
Mr McManus said he has been working on the festival with a small group of men in Lithgow. They envision a one day event at the Tony Luchetti Showground to raise awareness around suicide prevention, as well as feature services, supports and activities in the Central West that can improve mental health.
Another facet of the event is live music, with $20,000 factored into the budget for a professional festival stage.
“Music is something that is relatable to all walks of life and is just another good way to express what you are feeling,” Mr McManus said.
The festival was partly inspired by community events promoting better mental health that have already taken place this year.
“I guess we just want it on a bigger scale with all our efforts resourced into a one day event all in one place. It’s going to be all for charity, we are just deciding what organisation to give to,” Mr McManus said.
Lifeline Central West CEO, Alex Ferguson, said the rate of suicide in regional areas was “terrible”.
“Regional [areas] everywhere has a suicide statistic about three times greater than the city. Where Aboriginal people are involved the rate is double compared to non-aboriginal people. And it’s predominantly a young person’s problem,” he said.
Mr Ferguson said there was a need for more community events that shine a light on mental health.
“We’ve got to throw the stigma in the bin and talk plainly about suicide for what it is.”
LINC is hosting ‘Understanding Suicide’ information sessions on July 16 and 17. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.