Matt Richards is using his art to raise awareness about suicide prevention during Mental Health Month.
Throughout October, the Newcastle photographer and Tomaree High School student learning support officer is raffling a framed print of a photo he snapped of Newcastle from the water with the proceeds to be donated to Lifeline.
I want to use my photography to get people talking about mental health and to spread the message that, with the right support, people can overcome challenges. For people contemplating suicide, there is hope," he said.
It was the purchase of a new phone two years ago that kicked off Mr Richards' passion for photography. He started taking photos of Lake Macquarie and of the Hunters beaches and ocean baths. After buying a camera and a drone his hobby has developed into a side social enterprise.
Mr Richards said his photography is about his connection to the photo and to community, which he is as passionate about as promoting positivity and good mental health.
He does this through his weekly Instagram Live podcast.
Mr Richards has gone through his own challenges in recent years. The father of two went through a divorce, his mum died unexpectedly, and he lost his best mate to suicide.
Ive worked hard on myself over the past three years, and with the benefit of a great support network, I have come out the other side, he said. The photography has helped me too."
Knowing that not everyone has a strong support network like he does, Mr Richards is raising funds for Lifeline.
"Not everyone has their own support network and Lifeline is always there for anyone who is struggling or in crisis. I was amazed to find out how much they rely on community support and donations to run their services locally," he said.
Last year Mr Richards had the idea to raffle one of his prints to raise funds for Lifeline Hunter. He raised $10,000 - far surpassing his initial goal of $1000. He wants his raffle to be an annual Mental Health Month event.
Tickets in the raffle are $10 each and can be purchased online at rafflelink.com.au/bbtyg2g2021. The raffle closes on October 31.
Mr Richards will also donate $100 from the sale of each of his A1 prints to Lifeline Hunter ongoing.
People who purchase prints in October will also get 15 free tickets in the raffle.
Lifeline is Australia's leading suicide prevention and crisis support service.
Phone Lifeline 24 hours on 13 11 14.
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