RUOK? The Shine the Light event is being hosted in memory of Sharon Scherf who took her own life earlier this year.
RUOK? The Shine the Light event is being hosted in memory of Sharon Scherf who took her own life earlier this year. Contributed

Spotlight on mental illness

IN MAY this year family and friends were devastated by the news that their vibrant and strong mother of two had taken her own life.

Sharon Scherf was 39.

Now almost four months since her passing, a group of Ms Scherf's friends from Roma have come together and are working to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention with the cocktail event EzyQuip Hire's Shine the Light.

"It was shocking news when I heard Sharon had taken her own life and probably one of the least likely people,” co-organiser Bec Cannon said.

"She was healthy, strong, very actively involved in the community and she certainly wasn't the type of person that fit the stereotype of suffering from mental health issues,” Ms Cannon said.

"We wanted to do something for the family, but also more importantly create more awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.

"We want to make sure this doesn't happen to another family.”

The late Sharon Scherf with her husband Luke and their children Lebraya and Frazer.
The late Sharon Scherf with her husband Luke and their children Lebraya and Frazer. Contributed

The five women -Ms Cannon, Tracey Lewington, Kate Fay, Stacey Johnson, and Ellen Bain - formed a committee to host the event.

The sold-out event will be held next Friday, September 14, at Moorelands Bush Nursery in honour of Ms Scherf's memory.

"This event has doubled in size to what we originally thought,” Ms Cannon said.

"Everything around the event is in the essence of something Sharon did or a memory we shared with her.

"The strongest point we want to achieve with this event is that people are aware and checking in on the strong ones.

"When someone breaks an arm we automatically see something physically wrong, but mental health is such a tough subject and we want to shed some light on people being more aware and asking the question, 'are you ok?'.”

The event will also raise funds for the Scherf family and RUOK?.

The evening will feature guest speakers David Shillington, a mental health advocate and Queensland Manager at Men of League Foundation, and Roma's Soul Mama, Emma Taylor, who will share her experiences with depression and anxiety.

Ms Cannon said it appeared her friend's battle with depression was a private one and the committee hoped events such as Shine the Light would help more people speak up about mental illness.

"By inspiring people to take the time to ask are you ok? and listen, we can help people struggling with life feel connected long before they even think about suicide,” she said.

"It all comes down to regular face-to-face, meaningful conversations about life and asking 'are you ok?' is a great place to start.”

As the event is sold out, tickets in the Shine The Light raffle can be purchased from the Tasting Co to help support the RUOK? Organisation.

The Shine the Light committee have just released another 20 tickets. Purchase tickets by following this link: https://www.trybooking.com/XCEP.

If you or a loved one are in need of help, support, or information please call: Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224636, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or visit the Black Dog Institute or RUOK? .


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