Tree’s company for saving lives

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Kirsten Boardman with a blue tree on the Anchovy Flats between Karratha and Dampier.
Camera IconKirsten Boardman with a blue tree on the Anchovy Flats between Karratha and Dampier. Credit: Shannon Beattie

The Anchovy Flats between Karratha and Dampier are home to many whimsical sculptures, but now a lone blue tree is serving as a stark reminder of the tragedy which struck the community around this time last year.

The 2018 festive season was a tough one for many, with the family and friends of the eight people in the region who took their own lives still reeling from the loss.

The idea of a permanent blue tree on Dampier Highway was the idea of Kirsten Boardman, who lost her best friend just before Christmas last year.

“It has resonated and created a ripple effect in the community because he was so very well known,” she said.

“People are still struggling to come to terms with it and I wanted some sort of legacy coming up to the anniversary to remind people to talk and communicate and be there for each other.”

Mission Australia Pilbara Integrated Primary Mental Health program manager Helen McMahon said the festive season could be a difficult time for some people because they found themselves reflecting on the previous year and events that may have been distressing or challenging.

“This is also the time when loneliness and isolation can be very difficult to bear, especially in the presence of others who have family and friends close by,” she said. “We also know that for many, thoughts can spiral downwards and people can be stuck in pretty negative places without strategies to help them get a different perspective.”

Ms McMahon said the simplest way to support people was to listen, provide love and support, and help people not to take on blame and self-hatred.

“Be aware of how you are travelling yourself, make sure you know how your friends, family and colleagues are travelling and don’t ever hesitate to ask for help,” she said.

Ms Boardman said if the blue tree can save one life from going down the path of suicide, it was worth it.

“There is no specific memorial or symbol to make people stop and think,” she said.

“I hope this serves as a reminder that we need to take time for ourselves and look out for each other,” she said.

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