Bench starts men­tal health con­ver­sa­tion

Midwest Times - - NEWS -

Ger­ald­ton res­i­dent Damien Nightin­gale would al­ways ques­tion how oth­ers were feel­ing about him, ques­tion him­self, stress a lot and not sleep very much, so he built a bench.

The 47-year-old’s tonne-and-ahalf creation is now a per­ma­nent fix­ture near the fore­shore, sand­wiched be­tween Sail Inn Snack Bar and Revo­lu­tions Ger­ald­ton.

Dur­ing the of­fi­cial open­ing on Sun­day, Mr Nightin­gale said the 10m-long, 7m-wide bench, was a project spear­headed by lo­cal ad­vo­cates.

“I was ap­proached by May Don­con, the chair­per­son for Ger­ald­ton Sui­cide Preven­tion Ac­tion Group, and I just had to get on board when I heard about it,” he said.

“I have a back­ground of men­tal health is­sues, more anx­i­ety than de­pres­sion.

“My fam­ily were af­fected through deal­ing with me, though these days I’m get­ting bet­ter with med­i­ca­tion and spend­ing time with this lot.” Mr Nightin­gale’s bench, in the shape of a tree, aims to em­body growth and branch­ing out within the com­mu­nity.

The mine site worker said he hoped when peo­ple had a bad day, they would sit on the bench, have a look at the Life­line num­ber in­scribed on it and make the phone call that could po­ten­tially save a life.

The bench is made from jar­rah and treated pine and has been in the works since late Jan­uary.

It was funded through com­mu­nity dona­tions.

Although Mr Nightin­gale was re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion, he passed credit to the peo­ple who dreamed up the idea. “I’m just the bus,” he said. “I’ve had some very im­por­tant peo­ple driv­ing me.”

If you or some­one you know is think­ing about sui­cide phone Life­line on 13 11 14.

Pic­tures: Tamra Carr

Garry Har­grave, Si­mon Keemink and Ross Bar­den.

Do­minique Bayens and Damien Nightin­gale.

Cathy Fox and Ce­leste Larkins.

Cathy Fox, Fleur New­combe and Sarah Collins.

Jeana Sul­li­van, Steve Sul­li­van and Tara Curtin.

Damien Nightin­gale cre­ated the bench.

Is­abel Ross and Zara Knive­ton.

Many Ger­ald­ton Sui­cide Preven­tion Ac­tion Group sup­port­ers at­tended the com­mu­nity bench launch.

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