Batemans Bay locals join together to prevent suicide

25 March 2024

A mural project to communicate to local youth that they are valued and to revitalise the Hanging Rock Sports Complex in Batemans Bay, begins this week with artist-led workshops for youth at the mural site as the installation begins.

With suicide being the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 24 years, the Hanging Rock mural project is a community-led initiative of the Bega Valley Eurobodalla Suicide Prevention Collaborative in collaboration with Batemans Bay local, Deanne Griffin.

The Bega Valley Eurobodalla Suicide Prevention Collaborative (the Collaborative) aims to lower suicide rates within the region and consists of more than 25 individuals, including representatives from 18 local organisations and entities including government, non-government, health, education, social services and community bodies.

Deanne Griffin identified the water tanks at Hanging Rock Sports Complex in Batemans Bay as an ideal billboard for positive, inspiring messages for young people in the area, while paying tribute to her son Sean Griffin, an active sportsman and trade apprentice who died by suicide in 2019.

“There is a need for greater understanding of youth by people of older generations, including empathy for the unique difficulties and challenges that young people face today,” said Deanne.

“We have chosen mural artworks that recognise loss, and life’s struggles while celebrating diversity, teamwork, togetherness and real-world support from family, community, school and the sporting world. The artworks emphasise each person’s value and remind us that even if you have a bad day, tomorrow is a new day and things will improve. We’re reminding people to reach out or talk with somebody when they’re not okay.”

“I’m hopeful this project will also remind people of the families left behind as their loss is ongoing. Our communities are so interconnected, many people know of someone who has died by suicide. I’m heartened these murals are becoming a reality, they have brought so many different people together in a positive way,” said Deanne.

According to Jo Riley, Suicide Prevention Program Manager at COORDINARE - South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network, we lose around 15 people every year to suicide on the South Coast.

“Every life lost is one too many and each suicide affects a large number of people, such as the person’s family, friends, children, partners and work colleagues."

“Suicidal behaviour is extremely complex, with many risk factors across an individual’s lifespan interacting together; and the important issues for one person will be different from those for someone else. But someone who is considering taking their life is typically overwhelmed by suffering, despair or loss and feeling disconnected and hopeless."

“We need people and places in the community that provide compassion, connection, inclusion, and safety to those who feel hopeless. In these spaces, a spark of hope can be shared and nurtured. Support can be provided to help someone take steps towards better days.”

“The murals provide a visual reminder to the young people of the area that they matter, their mental health matters and that their community wants them to be safe,” added Jo.

Sarah Smith, Manager headspace Batemans Bay said, “Being able to talk to an independent person who respects confidentiality is important, we have received positive feedback that headspace is seen as a safe space. Young people who are feeling down, feeling stressed or anxious or just not themselves can call headspace Batemans Bay on 1800 718 383, check out our website, or drop in to discuss.”

Todd Chatfield facilitates My Voice My Journey, a Eurobodalla-based culturally informed leadership and resilience program for Aboriginal young people. Todd said, "These murals are an amazing initiative that will benefit indigenous and non-indigenous young people."

Renee Green, CEO of Lifeline South Coast said, “The Collaborative represents a local, whole of community effort aimed at moving away from a medicalised model of suicide prevention geared only towards people with mental illness and considers the social and situational factors of suicide risk, including financial distress, alcohol or drug use, loneliness, and relationship breakdowns”.

“Our aim is to work together to reduce the impact of suicide through easier access to a range of information and support options, growing and supporting the suicide prevention and lived experience workforce and coordinating our response when there is a loss in the community.

“Tackling social issues, compassionate support options and building connected and empowered communities will contribute to suicide prevention. For example, sporting teams can play a vital role in engaging and connecting in a community of peers, mentors and role models,” Renee added.

The Batemans Bay water tank mural project will be launched during Youth Week at: 
3.00pm on Friday 19 April at the Hanging Rock Sports Complex in Batemans Bay.

Community members can register to attend via this link.

Local supports
If you are feeling distressed and in need of immediate assistance, please contact Lifeline (24/7, phone 13 11 14) or 13YARN (24/7, phone 13 92 76). Support for those impacted by suicide loss is available from StandBy Support After Suicide (phone 1300 727 247) and Thirrili Indigenous Postvention Support (24/7, phone 1800 805 801).

Refer to for support and advice on reporting of suicide-related stories.

Please note Bega Valley Eurobodalla Suicide Prevention Collaborative is NOT a crisis response service. If you, or someone you are with, is in immediate danger call 000.

Media release, Mental health, Southern NSW, Suicide prevention