OPINION

Facing loss and finding meaning - the hope of Classics for a Cause

Facing loss and finding meaning - the hope of Classics for a Cause

When someone takes their own life, it has a ripple effect on those left behind. They say that for each life lost to suicide, the impacts are felt by up to 135 people.

Kerry was my best friend and business partner, we lived together in Bali where we ran several successful online businesses. Eight years ago, after battling anxiety and depression, he took his own life.

It affected me a lot more than I expected and made me want to get more involved in the community.

I started by donating to small suicide prevention charities with the limited resources and money that I had.

I later looked into key populations that had larger suicide rates than others, with a focus on men's health, which is what brought me to working with veterans.

Feeling like there should be more support in that sector, I launched Veteran Benefits Australia - a free platform for Aussie veterans that connects them to service providers for psychology and exercise services.

Six years later and we have helped more than 30,000 veterans.

To date it's one of my proudest achievements, and although I would love Kerry to be here to work on it with me, I know he would be proud looking down at what we built.

In my workings, I was disappointed to find that a lot of veterans were not actually eligible for some of the free services.

So, in 2019 bought a 1967 Eleanor Mustang with my own money and raffled the car online to make money for veterans' charities.

It was a huge success, and thus Classics for a Cause was born.

In the first 18 months we gave away eight different classic cars and raised more than $2.5 million for the charities, funding important mental health and community programs for veterans.

When COVID-19 hit at the start of 2020, myself and a few others self-funded a free mindfulness platform for veterans - aptly named Veteran Mindfulness Australia.

Here they can access online videos covering meditation, yoga, art therapy, music therapy, journaling and photography.

We have been fortunate that the government has seen the value and success we have had with the platform and has now funded the whole project.

While my focus has been with veterans, I'm not ill to the fact that suicide is an ongoing issue plaguing thousands of Australians per day.

It's so important to reach out if you are seeing symptoms leading to suicidal thoughts or tendencies - there will always be someone on the other end of the conversation.

Thomas Bailey is co-founder of Classics for a Cause. World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10.

  • If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.
This story Facing loss and finding meaning - the hope of Classics for a Cause first appeared on The Canberra Times.