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A pivotal day for the Woolgoolga community

Woolgoolga residents ask R U OK?
Woolgoolga residents ask R U OK? Robert Watkin

AS residents gathered to paint the town yellow last week, it proved to be a pivotal day for the Woolgoolga community.

With trees draped in yellow and adorned with hanging messages of hope, R U OK Day was in full swing with community members pushing to quash taboo and stigma surrounding mental illness.

Around 100 residents arrived at Woogloolga Main Beach last Thursday morning.

It was the debut of what is set to be an annual event, as organiser Lisa Nichols combined Woolgoolga's yearly suicide prevention walk with R U OK Day.

"It was just beautiful. Most of the town dressed in yellow and everyone was buzzing around asking others if they were okay,” she said.

"Everybody was talking to each other, you didn't have to introduce yourself.”

For Lisa, it was the suicide of her mother that encouraged her to set up the event.

"It's awesome to see how much things have changed since 30 years ago in terms of mental illness, it's not so taboo anymore,” Lisa said.

"When I was walking around town originally trying to sell this event, every single person I spoke to had a story about someone they knew who suicided.”

The day started with conversation about suicide prevention and encouraging people to not be afraid to talk about mental illness, later followed with the Lifeline Suicide Prevention Walk.

Captured in stunning drone images, community members then formed a large 'R U OK?' on the beach.

Key Employment then provided free coffees at Taffy's.

Outside Taffy's also stood the message tree, where community members left messages to someone who has died, to themselves, or to others.

"It was just a really amazing bonding day for Woolgoolga,” Lisa said.

Lisa added she's hoping the event also brought awareness to the Fluoro Friday group, who meet up every friday morning at 6.30am to support people suffering from depression and anxiety.

"We're hoping more people will join us. The more we ask each other how we're feeling, the easier it gets. Don't be afraid of it,” Lisa said.



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