From students to train drivers, people all over Orange were talking about mental health for R U OK? day

James Sheahan Catholic High School invited students from Kinross Wolaroi School to join in an R U OK day event on Thursday, where James Sheahan Student Representative Council (SRC) handed out balloons and encouraged students to pass yellow balloons to others and ask them if they were okay.

One of the leaders of the James Sheahan SRC Graicen Fitzalan said R U OK day was a “really important” day for students, helping “bring mental illness to the surface” and “start the conversation” about mental health.

Year 10 SRC member Kurt Stephens said suprised him how involved students from both schools got.

“We had people going up to other people they didn’t really know, and starting that conversation and that was really special,” he said. 

Gracien said the Orange community doesn’t talk about mental health enough, and said it was positive so many young people we embracing R U OK day.

“I think we as a younger generation talk, we’re a lot more open to it,” she said.

“Some of the teachers hadn’t seen anything like it and were a bit taken aback.

“It’s really important that you talk - you just don’t know what someone’s going through.”

The big yellow message also rolled into Orange station on Thursday, RUOK Day, on its first trip.

Train drivers and track staff are sometimes confronted by the tragic realities of suicide.

To further the cause of suicide prevention an XPT train has been wrapped in a special livery asking people to ask each other “are you OK?”

Trainlink Chief Operating Officer Pete Allaway said the train was spreading the message around NSW.

“In an industry where staff sometimes witness tragic incidents, we know the importance of looking out for people around us who might be struggling and taking the opportunity to have meaningful conversations,” he said.

Professors David Perkins, the director of Rural Health Research said about three or four people a year in Orange would die by suicide.

“In every state of Australia the number of people who die by suicide is greater in rural areas,” he said.

Apart from asking people you meet if they were OK, he said it was important for people to maintain their own good mental health.

He said people should go for regular walks, join a club or belong to something outside work and set personal goals to strive for.

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