could be answered: “What could he do to prevent further loss and heartache?” The answer was that real action was required. The impact of the losses was felt by those close to Wesley, and closer than he thought. The series of events in turn brought together a group of passionate individuals, all of whom have had their fair share of experience with loss and suicide. The topic of such loss was debated and analysed and they pondered why none of their friends – even after these two tragic deaths – had discussed it. The conclusion was that depression, mental illness and especially suicide was taboo. Together they agreed that in order to save precious lives, the stigma and lack of discussion had to change – and it was this commitment that gave birth to the Mental Awareness Foundation. Established by Wesley, his brother Tudor and a group of passionate, likeminded and determined friends, The Mental Awareness Foundation (MAF) is a charity dedicated to breaking the stigma of suicide, while at the same time supporting charities on the frontline; organisations actively implementing strategies and much needed programs that raise awareness of depression and mental illness, while promoting the preservation of life. Since the inception of MAF, Wesley and his brother Tudor (31) have been on crusade to help save lives, empower individuals and bring the sensitive topic of depression and suicide out of the darkness and into the mainstream. Their ongoing awareness raising initiatives range from social fundraisers to community health and wellness boot camps and culminate in the annual Walk for Awareness – an eight kilometre walk around the scenic Brisbane river and a unique event that brings people together in a friendly environment; one where the issues of mental health are discussed openly with friends, family and supportive strangers. “After learning how prevalent suicide is within the community, I wanted to stand up and bring awareness to the issue,” explains Wesley Vasile. “Due to the stigma associated with such loss, it’s not openly discussed in society, but the raw truth is that far too many lives are lost and all too frequently. Too many families are left without a mother, father, sister or brother – all lives that could have been saved had there been greater discussion and action. “At the Mental Awareness Foundation, we are wholly committed to ensuring that these sensitive topics are no longer swept under the carpet. All of our initiatives, including the Walk for Awareness, seek to spark the discussion and empower individuals to recognise the signs of depression, mental illness and suicide – and to take the necessary action. “In doing so, we are dedicated to helping save lives by supporting and creating greater awareness of the phenomenal charities that are implementing the much needed programs and truly making a difference in this area,” he adds. Heading into its third year, the Walk for Awareness has attracted hundreds of supporters, raised thousands of dollars for nominated charities and is this year being recognised as the “Official” Mental Health Week event. Supporting Mates in Construction and GROW, the event will take place on Sunday, October 13 at Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point. In addition to the walk, the event includes a heart-warming remembrance ceremony whereby 200 while helium balloons will be released to the skies in honour of those lost to depression and mental illness, as well as those continuing the battle. For more information about the Walk for Awareness visit http://www.mentalawarenessfoundation.org/about-wfa/]]>
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