R U OK Day in Port Augusta

SUICIDE PREVENTION: Andrea Triggs and Hamish Press at the Port Augusta R U OK Day event at the Fountain Gallery.

SUICIDE PREVENTION: Andrea Triggs and Hamish Press at the Port Augusta R U OK Day event at the Fountain Gallery.

LOCAL residents were encouraged to start life-changing conversations about mental health on R U OK Day on Thursday, September 14.

The Suicide Invervention and Life Promotion Action Group (SILPAG) held an R U OK Day event at the Fountain Gallery, raising awareness for suicide prevention and help-seeking.

A ukulele workshop run by Raise Your Voice Music Academy, as well as art workshops, giant checkers and free massages were just some of the activities on offer at the Fountain Gallery.

SILPAG Chairperson Andrea Triggs said the day went really well, with “a nice stream of people” visiting the event throughout the day.

“The whole idea behind the day is for people to stop, maybe engage in an activity, but then to take the time to have a conversation and really ask someone how they're doing, how they're travelling and if they're okay,” she said.

“For some people ‘are you okay?’ is just a greeting instead of actually waiting for a response and hearing what others are saying.”

The Art Gallery of South Australia brought START at the Gallery to Port Augusta for the event, focusing on the theme “every story has a face, every face has a story”.

START is touring regional SA as part of TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art, and the workshop encourages participants to create soft sculpture self-portraits.

Art Gallery of SA Exhibitions and Public Programs Coordinator Megan McEvoy said the theme has strong ties with mental health.

“It’s all about community and sharing your story … it’s about listening and engaging,” she said.

“The Art Gallery is really proud to be participating in R U OK Day and being able to bring our program to regional centres such as Port Augusta.”

The event ran from 10am until 4pm, with traditional Aboriginal cuisine such as kangaroo tail stew served up for residents.

R U OK Day was founded in 2009 and is held annually on the second Thursday of September.

According to R U OK? statistics, eight Australians die by suicide everyday.

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